Wainwright Soldiers finding fitness for body, mind, soul

By Sheryl Nix (Fort Wainwright Public Affairs)March 25, 2010

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Resiliency has become a catch-phrase used often in the combat-hardened world where many Soldiers and family members live, racking up multiple deployments during the past nine years. The Army defines resiliency as "the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges and bounce back from adversity." Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, the Army's program designed to foster resiliency in Soldiers and families, is described in the 2010 Posture Statement as "an all-inclusive approach to emotional, social, spiritual, family and physical fitness " and "the foundation to building resiliency within the Army."

In addition to the online Global Assessment Tool available to Soldiers and family members, unit and family readiness group trainings will further the Army's CSF goals of fostering resiliency and post-traumatic growth.

At the core of the CSF program are master resiliency trainers who are taking the message of resiliency back to their units. Several dozen battalion and squadron representatives from 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division recently returned from a 10-day Master Resiliency training at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and are sharing what they've learned with Fort Wainwright Soldiers and family members.

"I actually enjoyed it. It was really good training," said Staff Sgt. Brian Ritter, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Troops Battalion, 1-25th SBCT, a battalion MRT. "It will help out a lot of Soldiers."

For battalion MRT Staff Sgt. Eric M. Syfrett, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1-25th SBCT, the program was hugely beneficial and will impact Soldiers in a new and important way before, during and after deployments.

"The goal is to sharpen the life skills tool box," he said. "Sharpen all those tools. So, as they're preparing for (another) deployment, or what could be their first deployment, they are not accidentally spreading unnecessary chaos throughout their life. We're attacking things like feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. And the only way to do it is not me telling you as a Soldier, 'there's hope,' it's showing them how to find hope."

MRTs from 1-5th began the first of their Soldier training sessions March 11 with 40 Soldiers at the Terry L. Wilson Battle Command Training Center.

Opening the training with a video featuring a gummy bear encountering hunting traps and learning to overcome, the four 1-5th MRTs introduced the concept of resiliency to a surprisingly receptive audience.

"We're not trying to gloss over that war can be horrific," Syfrett said. "What I took from this program is that these life skills help make them stronger in advance, and then on the other end of things, help them cope."

While the goal is for every Soldier to experience CSF resilience training, 1-5th MRTs were just thankful to get the training underway while final regulations and policies are still in the works.

Staff Sgt. Eddie E. Barba, A Company, 1-5th, 1-25th SBCT, and Syfrett cited their commander's support and a desire to get the training and tools out to Soldiers now as key to their early momentum.

"That's one of the great mindsets that a lot of good commanders have is that the 75 percent solution now is better than 99 percent six months from now," Barba said.

For many of these newly-trained resiliency warriors, the Army has equipped them, but the mission is also personal. "This is a good program for Soldiers because it is just not about the Army, it helps in life, too," said Staff Sgt. Kyle D. Cox, C Company, 1-5th, an MRT with Barba and Syfrett. "It gives tips in how to deal with stress for deployment and everyday garrison life as well as tips you can use at home to improve your relationships."

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