“Today we spoke to Soldiers where they were,” said Marilynn Parker, an American Red Cross volunteer who engaged with Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, on September 30.
Parker was one of ten licensed volunteer therapists with the American Red Cross who traveled to Fort Riley for the organization’s first surge stress solutions reconnection workshop. She and Carmen Stein were paired to facilitate small group discussions with Soldiers, divided amongst individual companies of the unit. Pairs of additional volunteers led four other groups, each meeting twice to provide Soldiers techniques on stress reduction and mental health resiliency.
Volunteer therapists with American Red Cross typically provide these workshops to small groups of up to 20 individuals who have faced trauma. Through the American Red Cross Service Center at Fort Riley, units have coordinated many such sessions since November, 2020 for their unit foundational days or wellness mornings, as part of Operation Victory Wellness. Victory Wellness is a comprehensive, enduring 1st Infantry Division operation to make every Soldier, Civilian, and Family Member on Fort Riley more resilient and stronger across the five dimensions of strength: physical, emotional, social, family, and spiritual.
2nd Lt. Andrew Bullen, CBRN Officer in Charge with 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, coordinated this first-ever large-scale workshop through Ms. Katrina Velarde, Regional Program Manager, Service to the Armed Forces, American Red Cross of Kansas and Oklahoma. American Red Cross agreed to the request and brought in ten volunteers from throughout the nation. For its September foundational day, the squadron focused on stress reduction and integrity. Non-commissioned officers of the unit led the integrity discussion. Groups rotated and then were joined by family members for a picnic. All events were held outdoors at McCormick Park, Fort Riley.
Carmen Stein said, “If they can leave here with just one little thing that we shared during that hour that we spoke, it’s a win-win for everyone.”
2nd Lt. Bullen said, “learning how to use those tools that the Red Cross is giving us to help mitigate that stress and move forward in a positive manner (was the most valuable outcome of the day.)”
More information is available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/firstinfantrydivision/albums/72177720302710657 or https://www.facebook.com/KansasRedCross/posts/pfbid02p18U4n7ARqWxJJnZ3EJzhLpgHHmLrMhFSRp6wX42kMMshgAdPSiSPYommmATz4rSl