By Kari Hawkins, USAG Redstone March 27, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (March 27, 2013) -- When Col. Kenneth Riddle talks about the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program, the sound of frustration can be heard in his voice.
"If this program is scientifically programmed to work, then how come the Army's suicide rate last year was higher than ever? How come the divorce rate is higher than ever? It's because this program is not being executed across the board," he said. "We've never had the buy in, the command emphasis on the ground."
That will no longer be the case as the Army works to train Soldiers, civilians and spouses on how to implement the Army's "Ready and Resilient" campaign at key installations. The program offers a holistic approach to the total healthcare for Soldiers, family members and civilians, and includes topics such as physical, environmental, behavioral, medical and dental, psychological, social, family, spiritual and nutritional health. Two key programs associated with the "Ready and Resilient" campaign are the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program and the Suicide Prevention program. The three pillars of "Ready and Resilient" are: medical readiness, personnel readiness and transition readiness.
Riddle, who works for Operations at Department of the Army Headquarters, was part of the team that briefed the "Ready and Resilient" campaign to Redstone Arsenal leaders, March 20, at Redstone Garrison headquarters. He spoke primarily about the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program, known as CSF2, which is based on five pillars:
• The Global Assessment Tool that allows participants to confidentially assess their physical and psychological health based on emotional, social, spiritual and family fitness;
• Master Resilience Trainers who are trained and authorized to conduct formal resilience training and who serve as the commanders' advisers for resilience training;
• Performance Enhancement that provides participants with the mental and emotional skills to strengthen their minds and perform at their best when it matters the most, particularly in combat, while healing after an injury, or when managing work and home life;
• Institutional Resilience Training that offers resiliency learning opportunities at every major level of the Army education system from basic training to the war college; and
• Comprehensive Resilience Modules that provide web-based, self-development training to build resilience across the Army and to teach skills that support social, emotional, family, spiritual and physical resilience.
CSF2 will "start to change our culture," Riddle said. "We must imbed this program in our Army."
Changing that culture begins with ensuring the program's leadership is trained to do the job as master resilience trainers. Currently, the Army has 10 training centers at major installations and will eventually have 28 centers throughout the Army. Installations without a training center, currently including Redstone Arsenal, will have access to a CSF2 mobile training center.
"The training centers are going to who's asking for them because we know they'll make it work at their installation," Riddle said. The training centers are being located at installations with a high volume of Soldiers.
The CSF2's master resilience trainers work to instill the 12 resilience skills within the Army culture, with training of seven of those beginning during a Soldier's inprocessing. Such skills include self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, strength of character and connection.
"When we talk the talk and walk the walk, that's when we'll achieve success and integrate this into our culture," Riddle said. "Our MRTs have to be the right people for the job. They have to have engagement skills and enthusiasm."
Currently, all Soldiers are required to take the Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, annually. Department of the Army civilians can voluntarily take the GAT and use the features of the CSF2 website by visiting http://csf2.army.mil.
"We're making the website more interesting and more appealing," Riddle said. "We have to show civilians there's a benefit to taking the GAT. It will allow them to upload into the Army fit environment. This thing is powerful. We want to engage civilians and maintain your interest and provide that help all yearlong."
Col. Tony Chambers of the Army Materiel Command said that, with a work force that is 90 percent civilian, AMC needs to be a champion for civilian involvement in the "Ready and Resilient" campaign and the CSF2 program.
"Our commander definitely needs to have a voice to prioritize this new initiative," Chambers said. "We need more of an emphasis on the civilian work force."
John Nerger, AMC's executive deputy to the commander and its most senior civilian employee, said he would like to see all of Redstone Arsenal's civilian employees participate in CSF2, including non-Army organizations such as the Missile Defense Agency and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
"We need to get our civilians involved and we need to be inclusive of all organizations here," he said. "A lot of great work has gone into this program and it's something that's really exciting. This all starts with leadership and none of you would be here if you weren't leaders interested in helping your folks."