By Denver Makle, 7th Army Joint Multinational Training CommandApril 7, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Noncommissioned officers unanimously say the Soldier 360, a comprehensive, leader's fitness course that instills tactics, techniques and procedures for becoming a better leader has changed the way they see themselves and given them the tools they need to mentor others.
Soldier 360 targets noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, who have combat experience. The course lasts two weeks and offers comprehensive training in stress and anger management, biofeedback, relaxation, yoga, meditation, physical fitness and conditioning, injury prevention, pain management, relationships, communication, conflict resolution, nutrition, sleep, combat stress, post-traumatic stress, and alcohol management.
The NCOs who attend the course must be nominated by their commanders and must have combat experience to attend.
"This course [Soldier 360], has taught me that you do not have to know all the answers or be perfect-just be open-minded, forgiving, and respectful of each others' individual differences," said Chief Warrant Officer Wendy King. "We're not walking away from this two-week course able to fix all the problems in the world, but with valuable tools in our tool bag, we can help ourselves and others begin to prepare the path to a better tomorrow."
King said practices demonstrated in the course, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, and journal writing will provide her an outlet to reduce her daily stress.
"The Soldiers around me need to not only hear me share what I have learned, but get a bigger impact if they see me applying the techniques, and see the results it produces in my life" said King.
King graduated April 1, from the class hosted in Hohenfels, Germany. Attending were 44 Soldiers from various installations in Germany, Hohenfels, Schweinfurt, Grafenwoehr and Bamberg, and also NCOs from Vicenza, Italy.
"Our intent is for every community to replicate this program so that the Soldiers establish a relationship with their local service providers," said Col. Mary S. Lopez, director of strategic initiatives for the Bavarian Medical Command. "Every community is unique and Soldiers need to be familiar with the agencies available to provide them support."
The course pulls together physicians, substance abuse counselors, military family life consultants, chaplains, and professionals from the Army Community Services and the wellness center.
During the course leaders are introduced to programs available throughout the local area, while learning to provide support to their squad members and peers, who might be struggling with stress, anxiety or depression.
The course curriculum incorporates a series of seminars, presentations and activities delivered by instructors and subject matter experts from within the community. The Soldiers learn to "take a 360," a relaxation technique that allows the individual to gain focus, which will help them to perform better.
"The thing that stayed with me was some of the stress release techniques, taking 360's and the yoga. Occasionally I do the yoga at home," said Sgt. 1st Class Milton Johnson III, a Soldier 360 alumnus from the 172nd Support Battalion of the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr. "I've been in contact with Sarah, the yoga instructor about getting something started here locally in the Schweinfurt area."
Johnson said he went into the course blind and didn't know what to expect, but said after seeing what it had to offer he loved it.
"My wife and I communicate a lot more now. We spend a lot more time together, and at work I can listen to Soldiers with more compassion. I try to understand their problems. I put myself in their position. That is something I didn't do before."
He said in the past he might have asked them to figure it out, and keep him in the loop. Johnson said the course helped him to become a better listener.
"This course provides Soldier-leaders with the information and tools to improve individual personal health," said King. "The healthier leaders are the more efficiently they can deal with the stressors of daily life."