By Spc. J.p. Lawrence, 42nd Infantry Division Public AffairsAugust 26, 2011
ROSE BARRACKS, Germany -- Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment gathered here, Aug. 16 to participate in Soldier 360,, a comprehensive Army wellness program that teaches non-commissioned officers (NCOs) how to help their Soldiers readjust to life after deployment
The two-week course teaches NCOs how to deal with issues relating to physical, psychological, financial and spiritual fitness, by giving them first-hand experience with programs already in place, said Col. (Ret.) Mary Lopez, who has worked with Soldier 360° since its very beginning.
"Soldier 360° is essentially taking our existing programs and repackaging them," Lopez said. "We've found that if you have a comprehensive, holistic approach to health and wellness, you actually end up with a much more cost-effective way of doing business."
For instance, an alcohol abuse counselor might only see five Soldiers come through the door, Lopez said, but by working with NCOs through Soldier 360°, that counselor can affect dozens of Soldiers directly and countless others indirectly. "That counselor now has a much broader audience," said Lopez.
The first week of the program introduces Soldiers to the concepts of readjusting to life after deployment and the services available to them. The seminars focus on topics such as dealing with stress and anger and working through relationships grown apart over time.
Soldiers in the all-NCO audience said they learned about services they didn't even know existed, such as stress relief through acupuncture, physical fitness through tai chi and relationship building through focused talking.
Sgt. Ronnie Cuevas, who redeployed with the rest of his unit in May, said he was hesitant at first, especially when he was asked to do yoga. With time, however, he grew to appreciate the program and how it taught him to reconnect with his wife. "A lot of things change over a year, so it's like we're finding each other again," said Cuevas, who brought his wife, Lily, to the couples' session.
"I wanted to bring her here and let her see what I go through and that I want to help her and help my kids," said Cuevas, a 2SCR NCO an Anchorage, Alaska native. "I want to take this and give it to my Soldiers so they know."
The second week thrusts the NCOs into teaching roles to bolster what they've learned, and acclimate them to teaching their own Soldiers.
Sgt. Jerrod James, who taught the class on domestic violence, said the program has helped him prepare for the many problems his Soldiers may have.
"One Soldier might have this problem, and another Soldier might have a different problem," James, a 2SCR cavalry scout, said. "This class is a great tool to help us deal with these problems, and help us realize how to better help the Soldiers help themselves."
"They have so many tools available," James said. "The problem is no one knows about these tools, or how to find out about them. By allowing us to have this information, we can direct them to a better place."
Lopez said turning NCOs like Cuevas and James into teachers is what the program's all about. "The NCOs are the backbone of the Army, and by giving them these tools," Lopez said. "We're actually reinforcing that backbone."