Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

September 22, 2011 at 12:32pm

Airmen, Soldiers receive resilience training

Dr. John Cacioppo, Center for Cognitive and Social Neurosciences, tests soldiers gives a survey on how to watch out for suicidal signs in soldiers during Resiliency Training held at JBLM.

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In 2010 the Air Force's Air Mobility Command launched the Comprehensive Airman Fitness concept to be what Air Force Gen. Raymond E. Johns, Jr., AMC commander, said would be "not a program, but an approach to better equip you to handle stress." Joint Base Lewis McChord's continued dedication to joint readiness carried on his vision as Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing joined Soldiers from multiple Lewis-McChord Army units for Military Resilience Trainer instruction at John "Bud" Hawk Education Center, Sept. 12 through today.

Servicemembers received special insight on the training as Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of the Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, served as the master instructor and led the initial plenary session.

Cornum said CSF has been well accepted for several years within Air Combat Command but this Spring Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, decided that Comprehensive Airman Fitness would be the model for the Department of Defense, and the Army is motivated to support that effort in joint environments.

The CSF director, who in 1991was a prisoner of war while held by Iraqi forces in the closing weeks of Operation Desert Storm, said training the Airmen and Soldiers received was based on CSF's beliefs in being proactive, rather than reactive in dealing with adversity.

"The whole point of the program is to treat psychological health and fitness the way we treat physical health and fitness," she said. "For example, it's important to know CPR when someone has a heart attack, but a more beneficial thing to do would be to teach people about exercise, lipids, and blood pressure so that they never have a heart attack to begin with - that's what resilience is."

Technical Sergeant Monique Dubose, an Airman from the 62nd Airlift Wing and NCOIC of the First Term Airman Center at McChord Field, said one of many things she enjoyed about the course was that though the trainers and facilitators were Soldiers, the curriculum was universal.

"It's been very enlightening as these are skills you can use in both your personal and professional life," she said. "It's for all military members, as well as those at different ranks and levels. It'll be good for the Airmen because there's a focus on being proactive in dealing with different obstacles they may have early on."

The First Term Airman Center staff helps new Airmen transition from basic training and technical school environments to their first duty stations. Dubose said because of her leadership position at the center, which is a starting point for all of McChord's new junior Airmen, she'll be able to spread good practices and play an important part in building a culture of resiliency here.

"I get almost 30 new Airmen every week and I can see where these skills will help them along in their careers," Dubose said. "For example, with ‘real-time resilience' we've learned about using evidence and or optimism when we have real-time instances and start getting negative thoughts."

To overcome a challenge a veteran Airman like herself may have "evidence" of past accomplishments from which she can draw determination, but even younger servicemembers can apply "optimism" toward overcoming a task. She said she's motivated to pass on these newly-acquired skills.

A former drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., Staff Sgt. David Larson, a squad leader from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, said he started to hear about Army CSF in the training lanes as fellow drill sergeants returned from other MRT courses.

"They had good things to say, but I figured it was just ‘the Army was trying something new,'" Larson said. He admitted he was skeptical about the effectiveness of CSF's "whole person" care approach, but soon realized he was wrong and said he's looking forward to applying resilience skills in many areas of his life.

"Here we are after Day 3 and I've learned a massive amount of things about the program, and about myself," he said. "I've already been thinking about how I'm going to integrate these approaches into my squad, my battalion, my Family and my personal life."

He said he fully believes CSF teachings will be absorbed by junior Soldiers, making it important for NCOs and leaders to remain open-minded - starting with himself.

"I think that as a leader, if I effect change in myself, I'll effect a change in the Soldiers around me," he said, adding that he feels CSF fundamentals can better servicemembers' lives "as long as people at the top believe in it and implement it."

Cornum said there are currently more than 6,000 facilitators and trainers throughout the Army and CSF's plan is to almost double that number in FY 2012.

For more information on CSF, visit www.csf.army.mil.

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