Civilian resiliency is a top priority in putting people first

By Scott WakefieldMarch 8, 2022

Get in shape!
Staying physically fit and maintaining a healthy exercise regimen is one key factor in resiliency. Here, retired Master Sgt. Jose Palermo works out at his headquarters gym. He visits the gym three to four times a week and exercises approximately 90 minutes per visit. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo) VIEW ORIGINAL

DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. — People are the Army’s top priority and to that end, resiliency is a key factor in ensuring that the workforce is prepared to take on the pressures of deployments and the day-to-day rigors of defending the nation. For Army Civilians that means supporting the Warfighter.

According to the American Psychological Association, resiliency is the process we go through that helps us face issues that are caused by adversity, trauma, tragedy, threat and stress in our lives. These problems can manifest through a myriad of situations and have great impact on our overall well-being.

One of the benefits of resiliency programs is providing insights for individuals to “bounce back” from their experiences and hopefully provide for personal growth through these circumstances.

U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and Army Community Services offer a wide variety of programs that prepare Soldiers and Army Civilians to overcome their adversities.

One program that TACOM offers is a resiliency training course. Nicole Lewis, TACOM’s resilience and suicide prevention training coordinator, says that individuals taking the course learn 14 specific skills that allow for development in six key areas: self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, strength of character, and connection.

“Students develop the capability to understand their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, as well as those of others,” said Lewis. “The participants master the skills they need to strengthen relationships through communication strategies.”

About two years ago, the Detroit Arsenal’s Army Community Service began a program called “New Year, New You” that provides workshops to the workforce and their families to help strengthen their resiliency. Since COVID-19 began and the majority of the Detroit Arsenal started teleworking, ACS has increased its efforts in providing training from both installation subject matter experts and local area professionals.

Pandora Brown, Army Community Service’s family advocacy program manager, stated that ACS programs fall in-line with prevention and education that contribute to the command’s overall resiliency efforts.

“Education is the key to Soldiers and Civilians getting the coping skills they need to handle stressful situations in their life,” said Brown.

Brown also mentioned that resiliency is important for the Army workforce to be ready mentally, physically, and spiritually to complete the Army mission.

“ACS provides programs through community and organizational relationships that target trauma, anxiety, and depression,” said Brown. “We try to offer classes that help our people to feel empowered, and to stop and think so they are more well-rounded.”

Another way that TACOM encourages its Civilians to be resilient is giving them the opportunity to release stress in a healthy and productive manner through its new Fitness and Health Promotion Program.

“The goal of the program is to enhance the health, fitness, and quality of life of Department of the Army Civilians,” said Gwen Outland, TACOM civilian fitness and health promotion program manager.

The program is voluntary and participants must have the approval of their supervisor to take part.

“The key to health and wellness is the employee-employer relationship,” said Maj. Gen. Darren Werner, TACOM commanding general. “This relationship must be leveraged to allow a balance in time offered by the government combined with time investments made by individuals to help them live a healthier life.”

According to Outland, there is evidence that employees afforded the opportunity to participate in fitness and health promotion activities experience increased readiness and resiliency, enhanced morale, increased productivity, reduced sick leave, and increased job satisfaction.

“I think that being allowed to invest in your health and well-being is an awesome benefit offered by the organization,” said Outland.

The program is open to all Department of Army Civilians and must be logged as administrative leave. Employees are given up to 3 hour per week and a total of 80 hours per year.

“The overall impact that the civilian resiliency program should have is to create a work-life balance for the workforce,” said Brown. “If our work force can understand what their triggers are, they can respond better to the issues that happen in both their work and personal lives.”