Conference to Focus on Building Troops’ Resilience
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2012 Nearly 750 military leaders and psychological health care experts will gather here tomorrow for the Defense Department’s fourth annual Warrior Resilience Conference.
The conference’s intent is to provide service members, units, families and communities with resilience-building techniques and tools that can be used “in garrison or in the field,” explained U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. George Durgin, resilience division chief for the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, which is hosting the conference.
“Whether a soldier or Marine in the battlefield, a sailor on a ship or an airman on the flightline, the bottom line is be able to have some tools and techniques that will help them overcome an adverse event and be able to continue the mission,” Durgin said. “And if they need help, we’re providing the tools to understand how to reach out and find help -- that it’s OK to seek help or to talk to someone.”
Conference speakers include Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Army Brig. Gen. Bryan Gamble, deputy director of TRICARE Management Activity. The services’ senior enlisted leaders also will be on hand for a panel discussion tomorrow, and a series of breakout sessions will address everything from peer-to-peer support to community outreach.
People who are unable to attend can watch the conference live on the conference’s website at http://warriorstreaming.sessionupload.com. The sessions also will be archived for viewing after the conference, the commander said.
While previous resilience conferences targeted psychological health care providers, this conference focuses on bringing resilience tools and techniques to military leaders, both officer and enlisted, Durgin said, building on last year’s Total Force Fitness theme. This initiative, led by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, takes a holistic approach to resilience building, he explained.
Total Force Fitness addresses mind and body and encompasses eight domains: psychological, behavioral, social, physical, environmental, medical, spiritual and nutritional. This conference will focus on the social domain, the commander said, which targets the individual, the family, the community and the unit.
“The social domain … crosses and bridges all of the bonds of the service member,” Durgin said. “It targets the individual connecting to the unit, connecting to the community and connecting to the family.”
They picked this specific domain, he added, “because it has that unique piece of unit. It provides this unique connection that we think is deserving of continuing the education process.”
All of the domains, he added, are “connective pieces” in creating a holistic approach to building service members’ resilience.
Officials focused their efforts on line leaders for this conference, Durgin said, as they recognize Total Force Fitness will be a noncommissioned officer-led initiative.
“The key for this conference is making sure line leaders know there are resources, there’re ways to address issues, to find help and to resolve any adverse events that may occur,” he said.
Durgin pointed out a few of these resources, including the Real Warriors campaign, which seeks to combat the stigma of seeking psychological health care, and the Defense Centers of Excellence round-the-clock helpline.
“There are resources out there that service members can seek anonymously to get help,” he said.