CAMP ZAMA, Japan — For Staff Sgt. Joshua Smith, one of the highlights from a recent Master Resilience Trainer course he attended was the opportunity to sharpen his communication skills.
“Communication is a big one,” he said. “I think that’s a root thing for Army units — you got to shoot, move and communicate. If you can’t communicate, you’re not going to be able to do the other two.”
Smith and 10 other students completed the MRT level 1 course Friday and can now instruct others on how to effectively overcome adversity.
The 10-day course, which is open to Soldiers, Army civilians and commander-approved family members, teaches students various resilience skills and includes sessions for students to practice instructing them.
Smith, assigned to the 22nd Space Company at Misawa Air Base, said the course provided him tools and a language that will help him properly convey those skills to his unit members.
“Our most important asset … is our people,” he said. “So, in the same way I would keep a rifle well-maintained, I got to keep my Soldiers, my [noncommissioned officers] and my officers well-maintained. This is one of the ways to do that.”
The Army Ready and Resilient Performance Center, or R2PC, in Japan offers the MRT course at Camp Zama and at Torii Station in Okinawa throughout the year.
“It enables students, regardless of their work domain, to be better versions of themselves,” said James Gallagher, a contractor who serves as the primary instructor for the MRT level 1 course.
Gallagher said the train-the-trainer course targets six competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, character strengths and connection.
Students learn the skills through in-depth lessons led by instructors and small group exercises that also have students instruct their group members. A closed-book exam with over 100 questions must also be passed to graduate.
Upon graduation, Soldiers receive the additional skill identifier, 8R, and become certified unit MRTs.
Gallagher said prioritizing psychological education, like this course, is important as many jobs, performances and tasks in the Army have a mental aspect to them.
The ability to bounce back from challenges and adversity can serve students well in both their work and personal relationships, he said.
“The Army is a people-focused organization,” Gallagher said. “And being able to have those relationships be as strong as possible means the Soldiers are as strong as possible.”
After students complete the MRT course, Gallagher said the skills they learn will have long-term benefits.
“This isn’t a ‘learn it and leave it’ course,” he said. “These skills go with us. They allow us to think more critically when it comes to dealing with problems. They allow us to generate more optimism in situations where optimism may be tough to find.”
Bill Hobson, a contractor who manages the R2PC in Japan, said resilience skills are even more necessary in overseas locations.
Hobson, who has lived 20 years abroad in Japan, Germany and South Korea, said some people would rather isolate themselves in their homes instead of exploring a foreign country or doing something that betters themselves.
Extended periods of isolation can potentially create negative habits that lead to alcohol-related incidents or mental health issues, he added.
In addition to this training, the R2PC also teaches the Ask, Care, Escort–Suicide Intervention Tier 2 course, or ACE-SI, to further educate students on how to intervene with those at risk for suicide.
While Hobson understands it can be stressful for some to live far away from friends and family, he said the MRT course shares coping strategies that can lead to healthy habits.
“We’re very preventative in nature,” he said of the center. “If we’re being used and we’re busy, that means the Soldiers are doing better.”
The upcoming courses provided by R2PC are as follows:
- MRT Level 1 course:
- Torii Station: Oct. 23 through Nov. 3
- Camp Zama: Feb. 26 through March 8, 2024
- ACE-SI Tier 2 course:
- Torii Station: Oct. 11 through 13
- Camp Zama: Nov. 15 through 17; Feb. 13 through 15, 2024
To enroll in a course or to ask a question, please email Hobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.