Cornum and other Army officials spoke about building resilient Soldiers during a forum at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting Monday, describing different ways Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is being implemented throughout the force.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. gave opening remarks at the “Building Resilient Soldiers, Families and Civilians” forum and emphasized the importance of creating a resilient force through Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.
Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, the Army deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, explained that CSF is an enduring program created to give Soldiers better coping skills for times of adversity.
“This is one of the most important programs the Army has introduced in a long time,” Casey said. He added that he believes CSF will work because it is a program focused on self-improvement, and Soldiers are always trying to improve themselves.
Resiliency training is already present in many different programs across the force.
Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King, commandant of the Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, S.C., plans to incorporate resiliency training into the school curriculum. Resiliency teaches self-awareness, bringing mental fitness up to the same level as a Soldier’s physical fitness and creating “supermen and women,” she said.
“It really, really works,” King said. “I am a believer.”
Col. William Rabena, Fort Hood Resiliency Campus director, described the different resiliency facilities and programs available not only to Soldiers, but to families and retirees, on Fort Hood.
The Fort Hood campus has a spiritual fitness center for “individualized spiritual discovery” and growth, a financial readiness branch, and a wellness center, which includes a physical fitness center, as well as physiological health programs like stress control.
The National Guard and Reserve also started resiliency training, said Brig. Gen. James Anderson of the Michigan National Guard, citing programs like “Road to Reintegration” in Michigan, and the Citizen-Soldier Support Program in North Carolina.
Cornum said she hopes a resiliency school will be established by the U.S. Army Training & Doctrine Command by April of 2010.
“Resiliency is the ability to bounce back after adversity,” Cornum said, “or it’s the ability, for example, to see something as adverse, but not traumatic, or just perform better in all cases. The whole program is (intending) to train people better incrementally.”
The program is not a single event, she added, but something that requires progressive learning. It is not a screening, or “fix” for something with a negative outcome — there are already programs to assist Soldiers with those issues.
Cornum explained CSF is a structured, long-term program that will provide permanent mental coping skills. “It teaches people to find what you can change and work on that,” she said.
There are four pillars in the program, Cornum said: the self-assessment tool, the self-development module, mandatory deliberate resiliency training, and master resiliency trainers.
The assessment tool is available online and provides a baseline for Soldiers’ resiliency capabilities. It helps assess what training the Soldier needs, Cornum explained. Self-development courses and mandatory resilience training are provided at different stages of Soldier education, and the master resilient trainer program will teach mid-level supervisors what resilience is and how to instill it in their Soldiers.
“Its our goal by this time next year to have to have a master resilience trainer for every battalion in the Army,” Casey said.