NCOs play a vital role in the military and must maintain their overall holistic health to remain resilient leaders that support their Soldiers and possess the capability of ensuring mission success. They are expected to be resilient leaders that place the needs of their Soldiers above their own, but what about them?
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Amaglo Siliadin, a culinary specialist of 1st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Sgt. Max Massaglia, 207th Public Affairs Detachment, 244th Engineer Battalion, 420th Engineer Brigade, 416th Engineer Command, 88th Readiness Division, and Staff Sgt. Marquis Hopkins, Student Company, Army Public Affairs Center, shared how they manage their mental health to provide the outstanding leadership that they promise their Soldiers.
Siliadin, who has served in the Army for 15 years, has deployed to Afghanistan twice and completed tours in both Kuwait and Poland. He said maintaining mental health is vital to success as an NCO.
“A noncommissioned officer is a leader, and as a leader your mental health is very important,” Siliadin said. “As a leader you must lead by example, action, and lead from the front. An NCO is a leader of be, know and do.”
A noncommissioned officer must set the example and looking out for their own mental health is necessary in order to lead their Soldiers.
“Part of being an NCO is taking care of yourself so you can lead. So do your PMCS [Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services] on yourself,” Massaglia advised. “Fix leaks and cracks in yourself as they’re happening. Don’t go months without preventive care and let your engine blow up.”
Massaglia joined the Army on Sep. 13, 2010, and is currently serving his 13th year in service. He served 12 years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as an information technology specialist. In 2011, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 160th Signal Brigade, and in 2013, he deployed to Kuwait with Charlie Company, 62nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, both for Operation Enduring Freedom. With all his experiences, Massaglia had a lot of wisdom to share regarding balancing leadership and taking care of yourself.
“To balance taking care of yourself, be proactive,” Massaglia said. “Part of our creed is taking initiative. Becoming an NCO comes with more responsibilities. You have to learn how to take care of yourself before you take care of anyone else. That's an overall important life lesson.”
As stated in the NCO Creed, the basic responsibilities are the accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of the Soldiers. The ability to balance the responsibilities of leadership and your mental health can be a challenge.
“Mental health awareness is extremely critical in the military,” Hopkins said. “When you become a noncommissioned officer, you’re responsible for multiple Soldiers and it's part of your duty to ensure that your Soldiers are well taken care of.”
Hopkins joined the Army on Nov. 13, 2017, as a petroleum supply specialist. He deployed to Kuwait from June to December 2021 for Operation Spartan Shield. Within five years in the Army, Hopkins rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
The Army offers Soldiers many resources to assist with their mental and emotional wellness to include behavioral health specialists, chaplains, military and family life counseling, and holistic health and fitness (H2F) teams. To relieve the stresses and pressure of work, it is important to enjoy personal time, whether spent on hobbies or with friends and family.
“I decompress a lot by exercising, journaling, meditating, playing video games, and watching sports,” Massaglia shared. “Exercise is the first and foremost. Your physical health drives your mental health. You have to let yourself decompress when you have the time.”
Hopkins, on the other hand, bolsters his mental health by going to the gym, talking to his friends, and using military resources such as behavioral health. He enjoys being the best father he can be for his daughter and he helps people reach their fitness goals.
“I manage stress by looking outside the box, setting goals, being proactive instead of reactive, avoiding feeling and emotions in situations, and managing myself before I manage others,” Siliadin said.
“Don't suffer in silence,” Hopkins said. “We are all on the same team, and we can get through this together.”