Resilience Programs within the ARNG

Monday January 24, 2011

What is it?

Within the Army National Guard (ARNG), several states have developed comprehensive social support and mental health initiatives. States with innovative resilience programs include Michigan, Nevada, and Kansas. More steps to build resilience within the ARNG will continue across the 50 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia, all sharing the challenge of finding distinctive solutions to recurring problems such as post-traumatic stress and suicide among Soldiers.

What have the programs done?

Several states have pilot resilience programs and new programs are on the horizon. Three pertinent and yet unique programs are as follows:

- The Michigan National Guard "Buddy-to-Buddy" program is a collaborative effort with several Michigan universities. Soldiers are trained at one of two levels to identify Soldiers who may want or need to see a mental health professional.
- The Nevada National Guard devised reintegration teams of Veterans who go to demobilization sites to talk to Soldiers about deployment, combat experiences, and things they experienced while deployed. These reintegration teams interact with the State Overseas Contingency Operations Coordinators and Transition Assistance Advisors.
- The Kansas National Guard has led the way in developing a robust resilience training curriculum. Kansas Flash Forward for Leaders consists of an eight-hour session addressing various topics, including stress, family issues, and chaplain services.

See the link below for additional information about the above programs and for other ARNG resilience programs.

What does the Army National Guard have planned for the future?

Several adjutants general have expressed interest in piloting virtual-reality exposure therapy as a way to increase resilience (see the link below for more information). Individuals diagnosed with stress symptoms can relive traumatic experiences (stress inoculation) in a controlled clinical setting, allowing them to better process stress related to war. Warfighter physiological response to intense combat conditions is recorded during stress inoculation therapy and normal virtual reality combat training prior to deployment.

Why is this important to the Army National Guard?

Taking care of Soldiers and families remains the number one priority for ARNG leadership. Resilience programs are intended to give Soldiers the tools to become even more emotionally, professionally and financially resilient. Our Soldiers and families are our biggest assets, and thus, leaders are working to better understand the causes of high risk behavior and are taking swift action on prevention measures. The Army is committed to building the resilience of Soldiers, one Soldier at a time- shoulder to shoulder, buddy to buddy.

Resources:

ARNG's Resilience Program

Related article: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy to combat PTSD

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