WACH Soldiers Boost Teamwork, Resilience Skills on Obstacle Course

By Erik MosheDecember 29, 2022

ASCIIScreenshot (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Under a blue desert sky on the outskirts of Fort Irwin, in California, over 120 Soldiers from Weed Army Community Hospital (WACH) worked together to complete a physically and mentally challenging obstacle course. The hospital requested that master resilience trainers— performance experts (MRT-PEs) from the Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Center—assist with its annual training efforts.

Along with the course’s physical obstacles, MRT-PE Dee Morrow created mental obstacles that the teams completed throughout the course, so Soldiers could have fun while building team cohesion and developing skills. Participants received initial training on Real-Time Resilience (RTR) and Activating Event, Thoughts, Consequences (ATC) skills from WACH MRT Staff Sgt. Lacy Reed and MRT-PEs before competing in teams of 10, with a time limit of 40 minutes to complete the course.

Mental obstacles included activities such as nut stacking and jigsaw puzzles, which require fine motor control, and mental games such as Categories. When experiencing counterproductive thoughts in the heat of the moment, Soldiers relied on their MRT training to reframe those thoughts using RTR sentence starters like, “That’s not completely true because…” or “A more optimistic way of seeing this is…”

The training helped to strengthen the relationship between WACH and the R2 Performance Center, which will be beneficial during upcoming Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) training.

“EFMB requires a lot from Soldiers physically and mentally, and the obstacle course mimics this environment,” Morrow said. “Not only do Soldiers have to physically overcome obstacles, but they must regulate and leverage their thoughts effectively to perform through mental obstacles. By taking some control over your thinking [by using RTR], you can make it physically easier to do your job or complete the task at hand.”

“There are many physical and mental demands that must be navigated to earn the coveted EFMB badge,” MRT-PE Jeremy Richter said. “Leveraging RTR helps Soldiers have their thoughts working for them, not against them. Given the stressful and exhausting experience, it’s natural to have thoughts regarding doubt, failure and so forth. When we are thinking counterproductive thoughts, it’s difficult to focus on the task and bring the best of our ability. We help Soldiers learn strategies such as RTR or other performance enhancement skills like building confidence to prepare themselves prior to any test and to adjust during the test.”

“It’s refreshing to see former MRT students in a new avenue,” Richter said. “We get a chance to see them be the leaders they are while also seeing moments where the MRT training is coming through.”

After the training, one participant observed, “We learned to work together and support one another throughout the course.”