ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Every organization needs people to function, and the smart ones have learned to value their employees, because people who feel valued tend to be more loyal and productive.
The U.S. Army Sustainment Command, like many other Army commands, places a strong emphasis on employee and Soldier well-being.
” ‘Invest in Your Well-Being’ is our theme,” said Mary Ann Wicks, Resilience program manager, and a master resilience trainer, “and it combines our programs perfectly. Well-being is the overall state of wellness and encompasses the Army’s Five Dimensions of Personal Readiness: Physical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Family.”
There have been a number of initiatives in the Army – and within ASC – over the past several years, all driven by a desire to better serve civilians, Soldiers and their families, and to empower a professional and resilient workforce. The current “R2 & Integration Division” in the G1 (Human Resources) is just one result of those efforts. The R2 stands for Ready and Resilient.
Integration is a separate effort, and ensures all G1 Divisions are synchronized and operating holistically, integrating the full spectrum of human resources to enable readiness throughout the command, the RIA Community, the U.S. Army Materiel Command, and the Army.
That integration change was made as a result of ASC’s Shape the Fight initiative, bringing a new approach to management, intended to better serve civilians and Soldiers.
The R2 umbrella consists of programs such as the Sexual Harassment & Assault Response Program, Equal Opportunity, Health and Wellness Program, Suicide Prevention, Substance Abuse Awareness, and the Resilience Program. All of these programs address specific needs and are considered vital to enabling personal and unit readiness.
The name change included bringing the aforementioned programs into one overarching program designed to ensure that everyone is working together to maximize support to the ASC workforce.
“The Resilience Program is an ever-changing program where we continue to meet the needs of our workforce,” Wicks said. “Our goal is to continue to provide training and education to empower Soldiers and civilians, enable cohesive teams and drive readiness at ASC.”
It’s a combined effort to encourage both mental and physical wellness in the workforce. These programs seek to give employees, Soldiers, and their families tools to deal with some of life’s daily, and more difficult, situations.
These situations can be something as straightforward as weight loss and overall physical fitness, but can also involve more complicated struggles surrounding suicide or losing a loved one.
Wicks works closely with other team members, like Linda Ottman, Health and Wellness program manager. Like Wicks, Ottman also is a master resilience trainer, in addition to being one of two certified health and life coaches.
Many initiatives are localized and tailored to meet the needs of the ASC global workforce, like the Choose to Lose Challenge, Maintain Don’t Gain, the Summer Water Challenge, the Civilian Fitness Program, health walks, and other efforts to encourage physical fitness among the workforce.
“Health and wellness encompasses a wide variety of initiatives designed to encourage and motivate all personnel to develop healthy lifestyles, improve well-being, fitness, productivity, and promote a positive work-life balance,” Ottman said.
Both Wicks and Ottman stress that this is a team effort, and both mental and physical wellness are vital to a healthy and productive workforce.
Wicks said resilience is fundamental to a well-balanced life.
“We all need balance,” she said, “so it is important to be self-aware and learn how to cope, adapt to change, communicate, manage stress and know how to pick up and move on when necessary.”
Adapting has been very important over the past 18 months. With most people teleworking, almost every office was forced to change the way it conducted its business, and the Resilience and Wellness programs were no different.
“COVID definitely changed how we offered classes and the topics that we covered,” Wicks said. “We geared our topics toward being at home and the challenges we faced last year.”
She also said employee feedback has been very positive. “Based on the comments we received, the classes and messages were helpful, timely, and relevant to our adapting to change.”
Wicks said support for the programs from ASC’s command group has also been strong, and adds that under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Chris Mohan, ASC’s commanding general, these programs fall right within a top command priority.
The strength of these programs is bolstered by the ability to draw on expertise within the command and the surrounding community, with which they have a solid working relationship.
“We have several Commander’s Ready and Resilient Council community partners that we use as professional resources,” said Wicks. “We also have great success working with the local hospitals, colleges and the Veterans Administration.”
Ottman said ASC’s best resource is people: Soldiers, civilians and family members.
“We strive to provide training, tools and opportunities for personnel to take charge of their health and commit to a healthier lifestyle,” she said. “These actions directly enable a more ready and resilient workforce empowered to execute the commander’s intent and priorities.”