FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Leaders here have revamped the Drill Sergeant Orientation Course to more closely reflect the Army’s new holistic focus on wellness for what’s considered one of the toughest assignments a Soldier can perform.“Drill sergeants put in long hours, long days, training America’s sons and daughters — turning them into Soldiers,” said Master Sgt. Jermon Tibbs, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the course. “The objectives for the course are to ensure that newly assigned drill sergeants are equipped to perform their duties here.”Tibbs said drill sergeants attend the two-day course within 30 days of being assigned to allow time to settle their families and any personal matters prior to arriving at their training company.“The course is very valuable for our drill sergeants,” he said. “Not only do they receive all of their required certifications, they also now get helpful information from agencies like the Army Wellness Center as well as a chance to hear from Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood Command Sgt. Maj. Randolph Delapena. It’s all tailored to certify and provide knowledge to drill sergeants so they are successful in meeting their mission.”Some of the recent wellness-related additions to the course include stress management tips, along with a body composition analysis assessment performed by the AWC.“Drill sergeants are under a lot of stress and have limited time to take care of themselves which may lead to poor behaviors and ultimately have negative physical and mental consequences, such as poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, elevated stress levels, muscle mass loss, fat weight gain, and decreased physical and cognitive performance,” said Anna Schwartz, AWC supervisory health educator. “The data collected from the body composition assessment will assist leadership in improving the drill sergeant’s tour of duty.”Beyond wellness, course organizers also added topics requested by and tailored to drill sergeants and their specific needs.“There is mail-handler certification, an in-depth look at (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Regulation 350-6), and a trend-analysis course given by the installation legal team,” Tibbs said.In addition to the regularly planned improvements moving forward, Tibbs worked with Master Sgt. Michael Schmitz, NCO in charge of Operations, Plans and Training and the Directorate of Training and Leader Development for MSCoE, to give drill sergeants who attended the Jan. 20-21 course the opportunity to speak with Sgt. 1st Class Erik Rostamo, who was named U.S. Army Drill Sergeant of the Year for 2020.Rostamo discussed topics such as holistic fitness, the value of giving 100-percent effort for trainees and finding family-life balance as a drill sergeant.“I have two basic tenants of being a successful drill sergeant: training and leader image,” Rostamo said. “The drill sergeant is the very first representation of Army leadership to these aspiring professionals. Drill sergeants have the power to absolutely crush that image for a trainee … or demonstrate it properly via teaching, coaching and mentoring.”Rostamo spoke on the replacement of what was commonly called the “shark attack,” and the importance for drill sergeants to have buy-in to the new approach.“One single training event doesn’t define the trainee,” he said. “The whole Soldierization process — drill sergeant leadership, interaction — is what defines the trainee. The objectives of red phase have not changed; it is still standards, discipline and to instill the culture of our Army Values.”Tibbs said the end result of the improvements is a better course for drill sergeants.“Overall, the course is a 180-degree change from the previous program,” Tibbs said. “As the Army changes, we have to adjust so that drill sergeants receive the necessary tools to be successful.”