By Staff Sgt. Gaelen Lowers, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsNovember 28, 2012
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Following big Army's push to make Soldiers more resilient, senior noncommissioned officers with the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, came together for a combination hike and master resiliency classes on the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Trail, Oct. 12.
The NCOs followed the 1.66-mile hike up to the nearly 2,000-foot Koolau summit, stopping at various points along the way, to learn some of the master resiliency lessons outlined by the Army and the University of Pennsylvania.
Resiliency training is part of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which focuses on the five dimensions of strength: emotional, social, spiritual, family and physical.
"We've been working for about the last year on Comprehensive Soldier Fitness," said retired Gen. George Casey Jr., former chief of staff of the Army, at the master resiliency training pilot program at the University of Pennsylvania in August of this year. "It's designed to bring mental fitness up to the same level that we give to physical fitness. In this era of persistent conflict, we've found that the vast majority of Soldiers deploying have a positive growth experience because they're exposed to something very difficult and they succeed. Our goal through Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is to ensure all Soldiers have the skills to grow and succeed."
The 8th STB heard that message loud and clear, and has been using classes, as well as its junior- and senior-level NCO development programs to teach Soldiers and NCOs about resiliency and the part it plays in their overall health.
"A lot of times, seniors don't realize how important it is to catch our negative thoughts and change them into positive ones," said Master Sgt. Sydney Lamb, main finance official for the 8th TSC. "Initially, when we started the hike, I didn't think I could do it, but I used resiliency to push myself and change my way of thinking until I reached the top of the summit."
"We wanted to really do some training that was truly physically challenging, where they would need resiliency to complete the task," said Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Law, operations noncommissioned officer for the support operations section of the 8th TSC, and the coordinator for the day's event. "We put together a senior NCO master resiliency challenge that incorporated physical training with two modules of (master resiliency training)."
MRT is being adapted from the Positive Psychology Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Positive Psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character and healthy institutions. More than a dozen scientific studies have shown positive results in students whose teachers have been trained in the program, including better grades, less dropouts and less behavioral issues.
"I want to create an Army that is just as psychologically fit as it is physically fit," Casey said in "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness: A Vision for Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Army" in "American Psychologist."
"The key to psychological fitness is resilience, and from here on, resilience will be taught and measured throughout the United States Army," he said.
The 8th STB and the 8th TSC will continue efforts to promote resiliency and MRT through classes, training and other fun activities that incorporate hands-on learning.
"The plan I put in place is going to be the template for upcoming events," said Law about MRT and future training. "We are going to continue to implement MRT into as many things as possible. It's good training and will help strengthen our Soldiers and our Army."