By Mary El PearceMay 13, 2010
PHILADELPHIA -- It's always sunny in Philadelphia - at least when the 1,000th Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) graduates.
The sun shone brightly during yesterday's graduation when Staff Sgt. Shawn Goggins was called to the front of the classroom to receive a framed certificate of completion, a G-3 coin and a director's coin from Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, chief of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.
Because Cornum could not attend the event, Sgt. Maj. Russell Faulkner, HQDA Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-3/5/7 Asymmetric Warfare Group, presented the certificate and G-3 coin to Goggins.
"This is especially dear to my heart, what you guys are doing," Faulkner told the graduating MRTs. "I can't think of a more noble mission than to serve those who serve selflessly, and that's what you're doing."
"I think it's past time for a program like this, so not just congratulations, but thank you," he said.
Col. Glenn Baca, CSF senior planner, presented Goggins with the director's coin.
"There's a little over a thousand of you, which means there is one tenth of one percent of the Army that knows MRT skills," Baca said. "You have to go [back] and you've got to help your unit, you've got to help the Army and you've got to help your brothers and sisters."
"It's an honor to be the 1,000th MRT," Goggins, who is stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., said after the ceremony. "But it's really all about the skills that I learned this week and being able to apply them to my job and help my Soldiers benefit from what I've learned here."
Master Sgt. Richard Gonzales, who has worked with the MRT program since its initial stage, was especially honored to be a part of the day.
"This is truly a milestone, not just for the program but for the Army as a whole," he said. "It symbolizes the effort and commitment on behalf of the Army senior leadership to change the culture and provide Soldiers, families and DA civilians the armament with which to fight on the battlefield of life."
During the two-week MRT course, Soldiers and DA civilians learn the ability to bounce back from adverse situations and how to teach others the same skills. The course was developed in response to the Army's new perspective that comprehensive fitness is not merely physical but also social, emotional, spiritual and family strength.
"The Army recognized the need for this program, and in less than one year we went from zero to 1,000 MRTs!" said Cornum. "[This] demonstrates decisive action - that we are walking the walk - to get this performance enhancement training to every battalion in the Army as quickly as possible."
The MRT course is one component of the CSF program, which aims to make Soldiers resilient by increasing strength in all five areas of fitness.
"[The MRT] program is about reaching every Soldier we can reach, and it's also about culture change," said Dr. Karen Reivich, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania resiliency program and primary instructor for the Army's MRT course. "We're starting to enable that culture change to happen. Think about all the lives [the MRTs] are going to touch, changing the trajectory of someone's life. The more than 1,000 MRTs that have been trained are multipliers. They can go back and touch the lives of all the Soldiers they work with."
Last month Secretary of the Army John McHugh visited Soldiers taking the course in Philadelphia.
"Our Soldiers are under a tremendous amount of stress as are their families, but the skills they take away [from the course] will help them as Soldiers and will help the Soldiers that they bring these skills to, not just in times of war, but for the rest of their lives," McHugh said. "To have the chance to make that kind of difference in someone is very exciting."
The Army's goal is to have every drill sergeant and platoon sergeant in the Army qualified as an MRT, and the course was recently approved for an additional skill identifier.
A new MRT location opened April 5 at Fort Jackson, S.C., to meet the Army's demand for increasing numbers of MRT-certified Soldiers. CSF has also delivered the training at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Ky.
Soldiers interested in participating in the MRT program should query Army Training Requirements & Resources System (ATRRS) for the prerequisites and request attendance through their chain of command.