Master Resilient Trainer program promotes resilience to U.S. Army Europe Soldiers, Family members and civilians

By Sgt. Fabian Ortega, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
Sept. 24, 2010

Soldiers review the curriculum of the Master Resilience Trainer course at the Tower Inn in
Soldiers review the curriculum of the Master Resilience Trainer course in Grafehwoehr, Germany, Sept. 23. U.S. Army in Europe added 81 new Master Resilience Trainers to its units and communities across Europe this month. (Photo by Sgt. Fabian Ortega)

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- “Oh great, it’s another ‘Here’s the teddy bear, love and hug it’ course,” Army Staff Sgt. Wayne S. Sticker said, remembering what he thought about attending the new Master Resilience Trainer course September 13 through 24 at Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Instead he found it to be the most unique course he’s attended.

“Of all the schools I’ve attended in my 10 years in the military, this has been the best,” said Sticker, a signal noncommissioned officer with the 412th Aviation Support Battalion. “It’s more about giving your Soldiers the ‘tools’ they need to build relationships with others and ultimately reduce stress,” he said.

Driving home the Department of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, U.S. Army Europe added 81 new Master Resilience Trainers to its units and communities across Europe this month.

CSF focuses on building up the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and family elements which maintains resilient Soldiers.

 “If you have a resilient Soldier, you have resilient family members,” said Lt. Col. Ronald D. Daniel, USAREUR’s CSF coordinator. “They tend to go through the stressors of life and rebound quicker.”

Resiliency can prevent Soldiers from going down the negative pathways of drinking, spousal abuse or suicide, Daniel said.

Throughout the course, participants learn assertive communication, real time resilience, and problem solving, as well as how to identity strengths in self and others. The techniques are backed by 30 years of research, said Daniel.

The two-week course is divided in half. The first week is devoted to incorporating thinking skills and imparting them to other people, and the second week centers around students developing lesson plans and teaching resiliency methods.

These skills and methods benefitted the students on a personal level, said Sticker.

“I realize how I was categorizing people and I wasn’t building relationships with people I love, with Soldiers I care about,” Sticker said. “Regular occurrences such as good news from family members or coworkers are opportunities to strengthen relationships.

“When someone comes to me with good news, instead of being passive, I can now be constructive and tell them, ‘great job, tell me more about it’,” said Sticker.  “It’s part of building up a relationship. By letting them know that you are interested in what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve done, you show you care.”

Sticker’s example is part of the course’s model for building connections that promote a healthier atmosphere in the workplace and home.

Family members and civilian employees were also allowed to take part in the program.

“When I came here I was really impressed,” said Amanda M. Sims, the Family Readiness Group secretary for 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade.   “It’s a program the Army has adapted from the civilian sector and tailored it to fit the Army life.”

Sims, whose husband, Sgt. Andrew M. Sims, has been with the 177th since April, said a teaser email from the brigade FRG is what drew her to take part in the training, but she was skeptical.

 “I had the time and I had the energy but I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I’ve heard about the different classes and schools that my husband has been to and heard of death by power point, but I told myself to give it a try.”

While her husband did not take part in the course, she said other Soldiers were really accepting of the spouses coming into their space.

 “We are not the stepchildren of the program, they have really embraced us,” said Sims.

Eleven family members and civilian employees completed the course, who, along with the other MRTs, will share their training with USAREUR families, colleagues and friends.

Under current Army mandate, there will be at least one MRT in every battalion, said Daniel.

MRTs will be responsible for providing annual training to subordinate units and will implement their own training program, totaling 28 1/2 hours per year, with some guidance from the Department of the Army and USAREUR, he explained.

“Resiliency is about avoiding self-defeating traps,” said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the Army’s CSF program director.

It takes a developed and resilient mind, to put money problems, relationship issues, health issues, or tragedy on the battlefield into perspective, so the Soldier can continue with the mission and with life, she said.

USAREUR has more than 100 MRTs in its ranks ready to share their knowledge and plant the resiliency seed.

For more information about the Army's CSF program, go to www.Army.mil/csf.