By Ms. Jennifer Walsh (Army Medicine)September 24, 2010
VILSECK, Germany -- Resiliency isn't just the latest Army buzzword or online training subject. For some units - like the Warrior Transition Unit, Vilseck - building resiliency is a goal worth achieving.
"Our Soldiers are here because they've experienced trauma, their families are transitioning and they're trying to heal," said Capt. Ryan Putnam, acting commander, WTU-Vilseck. "Resiliency is important because part of being resilient is having the tools to get you through those times in your life that are extremely difficult."
In an effort to help its Soldiers and families build resiliency, the WTU-Vilseck offered Innovative Interactive Soldier Provider Integrated Resiliency Training, or I2SPIRT, as a family retreat Sept. 17-19 in Rieden, Germany.
Approximately 30 people attended the training to include Soldiers, spouses and children. Childcare was provided on-site so couples could focus on the courses, which included: yoga, communication classes, anger management, art therapy, journaling and relaxation techniques.
According to Margaret White, the WTU-Vilseck family readiness support assistant, families were invited to the retreat because if the Soldier is still healing, the family is still healing. The healing process creates a trickle-down effect that impacts the entire family, especially the spouse.
"The spouse has to be resilient because their role as a caregiver completely changes depending on their situation," White said. "Their family has to become more resilient than any other family."
Sgt. 1st Class Julio Fernandez said that he feels like he's known his wife since day one, but that the training may have helped her better understand how he's feeling.
"My wife learned a little bit more about me," Fernandez said. "Now she knows some of my trigger points and how to react when I get upset for no reason."
Staff Sgt. Nestor Quintanilla also felt like he and his wife benefited from the communication courses and said he plans on using the same techniques they learned when it comes to talking to his children.
"They taught us a good way to talk to one another and we can actually do that with our kids," Quintanilla said. "We can sit them down one a time and ask them just to vent so we can try to understand what they're going through."
Single Soldiers who participated in the event said that while many of the courses were geared toward married couples, it was still an opportunity to focus on building a relationship with their inner self.
"You come from downrange where the constant pace is 100 mph to where they're asking you to live your life at 25 mph and people are having a hard time with that," Putnam said. "We learned how to focus and stay in the moment. We learned how to control all that anxiety that comes from deployment."
The weekend retreat may not have given the Soldiers and Families an instant resiliency bulletproof vest, but that doesn't mean they left empty-handed.
"It gave us the tools to become more resilient," Quintanilla said. "It gave us the tools to better ourselves."