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May 28, 2010

Resiliency training being offered to Soldiers at McCoy
Story by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Master Resilience Training (MRT) is coming to units/Soldiers at Fort McCoy through their peers and other support personnel.
The purpose of MRT is to meet the Army’s requirements to assist Soldiers in developing and strengthening personal resilience. This program targets growth and self-awareness that will pay off in improved unit cohesion, teamwork, communication, a positive work environment, optimistic attitudes, professionalism and self-control, said Chaplain (Capt.) Raymond Leach of the 181st Infantry Brigade.

Leach attended the Master Resilience Trainers training at First Army Division West Headquarters in Fort Hood, Texas. He and a contingent of 181st personnel, including 1st Sgt. Herbert Cornett, Capt. Carl Kisely and Sgt. 1st Class Pamela Williams, received video teleconference training originating from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The 181st Infantry Brigade commander chose the Soldiers to attend the course and be the brigade’s points of contact for the MRT program, Leach said.

“Prior to this training, I had provided a one-hour resiliency training to battalions in the brigade, touching on much of the material from MRT, but in a very superficial way,” Leach said. “Our brigade commander has approved two weekend training sessions — the next one in June — for us to train battalion leaders and Family Readiness Group representatives at length in MRT concepts and skills.”

The Soldiers will provide training on the following core competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, strength of character and connections, he said.

Establishing a mission-first attitude requires leadership to see Soldiers and Families as a priority. When leaders lead by example, their Soldiers will follow them to hell and back, Leach said, and remain fully engaged.

“Keep in mind that many of these tools are being taught by our chaplains and have been for years through Strong Bonds (a training program),” he said. “I personally teach seven of the 10 tools whenever I do a couples Strong Bonds event using PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) materials.”

With MRT habits, resilient leaders will incorporate compassion, fairness, sound-mindedness and not make assumptions and jump to conclusions in their leadership style, Leach said. Resilient leaders will exercise empathy and see their units grow and prosper.

This approach helps mentor and cultivate enthusiastic leaders for years to come, Leach said. MRT is a powerful tool to help Soldiers keep their focus and remain positive during an intense and prolonged conflict environment.

Cornett said the members of the 181st contingent will be instructors.

“Soldiers will come away with the know-how to build mental resilience and the ability to teach it to others as well,” Cornett said. “We are in a dual role. First, we give the Soldiers and Family Readiness Group/spouses an overview of all the material. Then, we go back over the material and teach them how to train the trainer.”

The global assessment tool is used to assess current strengths in all five dimensions: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and Family. Cornett said the Master Resiliency Program provides training and education to increase these strengths — to create a Citizen Soldier who can bounce back from adversities.

“The program focuses on prevention, not treatment,” he said. “It was established by the Army Chief of Staff in 2008 to increase mental and physical resilience as well as enhance performance of Soldiers, Family members and Department of the Army civilians.”

Capt. Sylvia Lopez of the 426th Leadership Regiment, which is headquartered at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy, said she took the training in Philadelphia earlier in the year to serve Army National Guard Soldiers in her organization.

“We plan to ensure Soldiers in our organization get the training,” Lopez said. “We would like to offer the training quarterly, but we’re not there yet.”

During her resiliency training, Lopez said a teaching point was a metaphor involving a wall.

“If you throw a tennis ball against the wall, it will bounce back,” Lopez said. “If you throw an egg, it breaks. Everyone has resiliency, and we’re training them to become more in tune with themselves (so they can be more resilient like a tennis ball and bounce back easier.)”

Hopefully, people who take the training will have an open mind and accept the training is meant to help them enhance warrior qualities, Lopez said, so they can better endure the hardships of service.

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