FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "You knew what you were getting into when you married a Soldier ..."
Many Army wives have heard it in one form or another, the "suck it up, Soldier" line delivered to a battle-weary spouse.

But when your husband is packing to deploy for the fifth time, or when the kids start to bicker in the backseat of the car or when you just want to build upon your personal strengths, the best policy is honesty.

Being truthful about where you are - in relation to your daily experiences - lays the groundwork for programs like the new Spouse Resiliency Academy (an important piece of the Army-bred Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program).

DeeAnn Rader, an Army Community Service mobilization and deployment specialist, discussed the objectives of an Army-wide program like SRA, which teaches spouses to improve their coping skills and better understand the perspectives of their Soldiers, friends, children and coworkers. More than a self-help program, SRA emphasizes a positive, realistic and strategic approach to life as a military spouse. Within the framework of SRA, a strong spouse is the bedrock of a healthy Family.

SRA's five-step course covers topics like critical thinking, military-sensitive Family issues, maturity of character and navigating crisis and everyday occurrences. During the 20-hour course, women learn to challenge themselves both personally and professionally. Self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, strength of character and connection make up the core of MRT curriculum.

"You discuss what your thoughts are, what your emotions are and what your actions are in order to build these life skills," said Danielle Cavalieri, Family Advocacy Program trainer. "We have a very generic, ground-up approach where we (examine) that self-development piece, which will hopefully help in other areas as well," she added.

"Not saying this is all about crisis, but ... the whole resiliency piece is about being able to bounce back," said Esther Berrios, FAP trainer. "Little things that may have thrown me off before and caused me to be counterproductive, I now know how to better deal with those things."

Barrios said, "It's even about sharing positive things that may occur in my life. I got a new job today and understanding how an individual may respond to my positive information ... and how do I deal with that."

Faye Gioia, a mobilization and deployment specialist with ACS, said that spouses already know much of the information. What the program does is present these self-resiliency tools in an empowering way. By revisiting skills like positive communication, women see improvements in all life areas - especially when it comes to relationships.

Rader agreed, adding that the program is designed to enhance a woman's overall well-being. She reflected on her own experience with SRA, "I actually think back through the day and reflect on some of the good things that have happened, and try to let go of some of those negative things, and have a more optimistic approach to the next day,"

Register for SRA by calling the ACS office at 396-5521 or online at Trainings are monthly, with the next installment beginning April 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.