Character counts. It is paramount in developing morally strong, disciplined Soldiers, creating units and organizations with environments that are open, inclusive, and team oriented and can influence positive behavior and decision making. This was the message presented by two recent Army Resilience Directorate webinar guests.

Pete Kilner, the Hottell class of 1964 Chair for Character Development at the United States Military Academy, is responsible for teaching ethics and developing West Point Cadet’s character. He views developing good character as both critical to successful individuals and units as well as an answer to many of the destructive behaviors the Army deals with including substance abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. According to Kilner, “Good character, which is constituted by being a virtuous person, leads to a flourishing life and a good society. And so many of the destructive behaviors we see in the Army are a result of bad character.” During August’s webinar Kilner provided participants with an ethical framework for overall character development that focuses on the whole individual and not just singular incidents. “Rather than just trying to address those individually (destructive behavior), if we focus more on developing the character of our Soldiers and creating a culture of character growth in the Army, then we can create a culture in which those bad behaviors just don't happen, or where they happen much less,” he added.

September’s guest, Lisa Miller, a clinical scientist, Columbia University professor, and best-selling author, discussed the importance of having a strong spiritual core and its impact on a person’s outlook and behavior. Noting that while a person’s spirituality may consist of religious or non-religious components, studies indicate that individuals with a sense of their own spirituality tend to have a positive mental outlook. Calling spirituality a force multiplier, Miller noted its importance in decision-making, recovering from traumatic incidents, and addressing the same destructive behaviors Kilner discussed. “It is protective against addiction, depression, and even suicidality. It is foundational to not just recovery, but renewal. It is the seat of persistence, grit, optimism, and character. It is the shared awareness of sisterhood and brotherhood in relational ethics, very far upstream of the harmful behaviors,” Miller said. In addition to her own extensive work, Miller shared several additional studies and other research which provided participants with key insights into the scientific basis for developing an individual’s spirituality.

ARD webinars present great topics like ethics, character, and spirituality every month in support of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, Army Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention programs. Many webinars are eligible for Continuing Education Units that Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates can use to maintain their certification. Upcoming guests include the SHARP Academy at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Men Can Prevent Rape Organization from Washington, D.C., and Army Behavioral Health. For additional information or to sign up to receive notifications of upcoming webinars please visit the ARD website at