Soldier, family resilience programs offer many options

By Lori NewmanFebruary 20, 2013

CSF2-PREP Training
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JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON -- The Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program, or CSF2-PREP, has been available at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston since 2008, but many people still don't know what the program is.

"The program started initially as a learning enhancement program," said Eduardo Bojorquez, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston site manager. "In the 1990s, the performance aspect was added to the program, working mostly with the U.S. Military Academy cadet student-athletes."

The Center for Enhanced Performance was established at West Point in 1993 to provide mental skills training and academic support to the cadets.

In 2004, then-chief of staff of the Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker recognized the need for mental skills education, directing the CEP to develop a program for the Army.

Schoomaker's decision is considered the origin of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program, formerly the Army Center for Enhanced Performance.

A CSF-PREP training site was established on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in 2008.

The name was changed to CSF2-PREP to accommodate the needs of family members as well.

On March 1, CSF2-PREP will convert to CSF2 Training Center.

Six performance enhancement specialists are housed in a modest building on the corner of Schofield and Scott roads, across from the Rocco Dining Facility.

One of the trainer's primary missions is working with Soldiers and cadre at the Warrior Transition Battalion.

"We are teaching Soldiers performance enhancements and sports psychology skills so they can apply it to life principals as they go through the comprehensive transition plan," said Alissa Bookwalter, performance evaluation coordinator, Army Warrior Transition Command.

"Every Soldier who comes into the WTB receives Phase I Goal Setting within the first 30 days of their arrival. That's usually done by their occupational therapist," Bookwalter explained.

The CSF2-PREP trainers teach the Soldiers Phase II Goal Setting between days 31 and 90. There is also follow-up training through the adaptive sports program and individual sessions.

"There are lots of opportunities for the Soldiers to use what they learn and hone in on these skills," Bookwalter said.

The Soldiers must attend a 16-hour training course where they go through every module of the Mental Skills Foundations.

The five mental skills within the performance enhancement model include building and maintaining confidence, attention control, energy management, goal setting and integrating imagery.

In addition to the performance and resilience training, CSF2-PREP has implemented the Learning Enhancement Program, which addresses the cognitive, motivational and affective components of learning to help people succeed in military education and training.

"We teach them about mindset, attitude and thought performance interaction -- how their thoughts can be used to perfect their performance," said performance enhancement specialist Justin Su'a.

"A lot of times, wounded warriors experience traumatic injuries -- life-changing injuries -- and they have taken a huge hit to their confidence. We teach them strategies on how to enhance their confidence."

Two performance enhancement specialist trainers are assigned to each company in the WTB.

During morning formation, one of the trainers talks for a minute or two about one point or skill the Soldiers have learned. This is called the PREP Mental Minute.

"They all like it during morning formation, because it allows them to hone in on one thought accentuating a performance enhancement skill before their day gets too busy," Bojorquez said.

The trainers also work with the Army Medical Department Center and School to incorporate the 16-hour performance enhancement model training into their leadership courses.

A group of nurse case managers, first sergeants and commanders from across the Army received the training Feb. 7 and 8 at the Hilton San Antonio Airport hotel.

At the end of the training, instructor Justin Su'a asked the attendees what one thing they will take away from the CSF2-PREP training. The answers were varied; some said visualization, while others said goal setting, guided relaxation or energy management.

"Everyone in the group will take away something different," said 1st Sgt. George Graham from Fort Gordon, Ga.

"This training focuses on how to deal with yourself first, and then how to apply it to the warriors we take care of," Graham said. "The take-away for me is how to manage my time and take care of my family better."

Some of the techniques Graham learned were relaxation, prioritization and how to take a negative situation and be more optimistic.

Capt. Chet Zdanczewicz, a company commander at the WTB at Fort Carson, Colo., said he thought the training was first class.

"It teaches everyday life exercises that we can reflect on and utilize from this day forward for the rest of our lives," Zdanczewicz said. "That is priceless."

In addition to working with Soldiers and family members, the trainers have also reached out to teens by teaching one-hour teen resilience workshops.

The first teen resilience class was held Jan. 22. The workshop focused on goal setting, overcoming obstacles and being successful.

"The trainers extracted key points of the program and made them relevant to their lives in school, sports and home," Bojorquez said. They are also planning to implement the training at Cole Middle and High School in the future.

One commander told Su'a that CSF2-PREP was the best kept secret on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

"We want people to know about us and what we do," Su'a said.