|By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Commanding General,
Installation Management Command
Given the Army’s 235-year history,
resiliency is a relatively new word in our vocabulary. We hear it often
nowadays, from the highest levels of leadership on down, as we talk
about how we are addressing the effects of nine years of conflict. There
may be a danger that someone will hear the word once too often and tune
it out as the latest buzz word. However, we need to keep talking about
it until every member of the Army community — every Soldier, Civilian
and Family member — hears it and gets the message that we want them not
only to survive, but to thrive.
A dictionary definition of resiliency is the ability to recover from
misfortune or adjust easily to change. When we in the Army talk about
resiliency, though, we are talking about more than the ability to bounce
back from adversity. We are also talking about the ability to realize
personal growth and development in the face of challenging situations.
Resiliency is rooted in physical, mental and spiritual fitness. It is
about finding the balance in your life between work, Family and self,
and living your dash — the line on the tombstone between the dates of
birth and death — to the fullest.
During the last nine years of conflict, our Soldiers, Civilians and
Family members have faced challenging situations, and, in too many
cases, tragedy. Multiple deployments and too little dwell time have
strained our relationships. We can see the stress manifest in rising
rates of divorce, domestic violence, suicide and other destructive
behaviors. We have to reverse the trends. We owe it to our Soldiers,
Civilians and Family members to help them build the resiliency they need
to cope with their challenges and come out stronger and better.
The Army is recognizing the stress and strain on our forces and
Families. We are making resiliency a priority and a part of Army
culture, and have taken a number of steps to assess and build resiliency
in our Soldiers, Civilians and Family members. One of the initiatives is
the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) Program. The program is designed
to enhance the resilience, readiness and potential of Soldiers,
Civilians and Family members by building strength in every area of life
— not just physical fitness, but also emotional, social, spiritual, and
CSF is mandatory for Soldiers, but geared to the whole Army community,
with components for Family members and Civilians as well. Soldiers,
Civilians and Family members begin with the Global Assessment Tool,
which measures strength in each of the five areas. The GAT is located at
the CSF website,
The results of the assessment direct an individualized training plan,
which includes virtual training, classroom training and support from
resilience experts. It is a long-term program, meant to help every
member of our community succeed in his or her job and grow personally.
Another resource that helps Soldiers, Civilians and Family members build
their resiliency are the Army Wellness Centers. Like the CSF, the
Wellness Centers are focused on prevention.
They are focused on helping individuals identify their problem areas and
make positive changes for their health and well-being. Wellness Center
programs include metabolic and fitness testing, nutrition education,
weight management, stress management, and tobacco cessation.
One challenge for the Army is to make sure that every member of the Army
community, including National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, and Family
members who are not located near an installation, has access to the
resources they need to build resiliency.
Every member needs to know what support exists for them and where they
can access it. We have plenty of great programs and services, such as
the CSF program and Army Wellness Centers, but we need to make sure we
are effective and efficient in delivering them to the Army Community
members who can use them.
In the spring I will be joining senior commanders and other Army leaders
at Fort Hood to discuss the importance of resiliency and the different
ways we are approaching the issue. We are meeting there to take a look
at a brick-and-mortar model, the Fort Hood Resiliency Campus.
The Resiliency Campus is a one-stop shop where Soldiers, Civilians and
Families can go to strengthen their minds, bodies and spirits. Composed
of several buildings located next to each other, the campus offers a
comprehensive array of services and programs, including spiritual and
physical fitness programs, personal financial assistance, culinary
classes, individual and Family counseling, Warrior Adventure Quest, and
The symposium also will consider the possibility of a virtual resiliency
campus, which is in the beginning phases of conceptualization and
development. Installation Management Command Headquarters’ Chaplain
Ministry Team will demonstrate a virtual Spiritual Fitness Center, which
would be a core component of a virtual resiliency campus. The virtual
Spiritual Fitness Center will be accessible both as a conventional
website and in Second Life, on the Army OneSource Survivor Island Web
page. Both avenues will provide Soldiers, Civilians and Family members
faith-based and non-faith-based resources for building their spiritual
The virtual campus merits serious consideration. Like a physical campus,
it would offer a single point of access to assess needs and direct the
individual to the best source of help, but it would also be available to
Army community members anywhere and anytime. Ultimately, the symposium
will consider what models of resiliency campuses, virtual and physical,
can be standardized to benefit the whole Army.
The Army’s focus on resiliency is important. It puts mental, emotional
and spiritual fitness on par with physical fitness, all of which we need
to perform successfully. It also acknowledges that the Soldiers who make
up our all-volunteer Army and their Family members need and want balance
in their lives.
It is easy to get knocked off-balance by the challenges we face, which
is why I encourage you to take the time to build your resiliency and
find your balance. As I said, you have to live your dash. For me the
dash signifies not only serving my country, but even more importantly,
being a husband and father and making time for friends. When you are
taking your last breaths, you are probably not going to wish you spent
more time working, but more time doing the things you enjoy and being
with the people you love. Especially during the fast-approaching holiday
season, take the time to do what recharges you, to spend time with those
important to you, and ultimately, to live your dash well.