Army Works to Increase Soldiers’ Resilience
By Christen N. McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2010 Army officials are trying to increase the resilience of soldiers and family members by increasing their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family strengths.
"The program is modeled after physical fitness, where you have standards and then an assessment and a reassessment that measures psychological fitness," Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Rhonda Cornum, director of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, told listeners during a “Dot Mil Docs” webcast interview Jan. 14.
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness focuses on optimizing five dimensions of strength: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family. The mission of this program, Cornum, said, is to develop and institute a holistic fitness program for soldiers, family members and Army civilians to enhance performance and build resilience.
Available now is the Global Assessment Tool, a confidential online assessment that evaluates four dimensions of strength. The test allows users to see their baseline of holistic health, followed by training modules designed to help them enhance their fitness level.
“The modules teach soldiers how to respond and communicate in a more active and constructive manner,” Cornum said. “Keeping positive and negative emotions in balance is important to psychological and mental health.”
Soldiers are required to do the assessment once a year, but can reassess if they feel their psychological fitness has improved, Cornum noted.
Other elements of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness include mandatory resilience training, and training for master resilience trainers. Soldiers in the master resilience training course go through 10 days of fairly intense training, Cornum said. They recognize and build their own personal resilience and thinking skills and then follow with five days of instruction on how to teach others.
Cornum said the training is based on the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Program. Their goal is to teach visualization, goal setting, energy management and coping skills that are military-focused and based on cohesion, trust and accepting as a coping strategy.
She said plans to train additional master resilience trainers and developing more sophisticated online training modules for the individual dimensions of strength.
Beginning this month, adult family members of soldiers may participate in the program. Army civilians will have the opportunity to participate later this spring, the general said.
(Christen N. McCluney works in the Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.)