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The Mountaineer Online

Fort Drum community members learn life skills during resilience training

Michelle Kennedy

Staff Writer

The Army is constantly working to ensure that Soldiers are prepared for training and combat. However, Army leaders also are working to help service members prepare for life’s everyday challenges.
A mobile training team from the Army’s Master Resilience Training program has been here for more than a week providing Level I instruction to 89 active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers, Civ- ilian Employees and Family Members. Along with the MTT, members of Fort Drum’s Compre- hensive Soldier and Family Fitness program also provided instruction, support and assistance during the 10-day course. The class is scheduled to graduate Friday.
“We’re training them to be master resilience trainers for their units and organizations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Mason, Army MRT Level I noncommissioned officer in charge. “When they are done, their responsibility will be to go back to their units with the skills they’ve learned in this course. They will become the official trainers for their units.
“This course is all about bouncing back in the face of adversity,” he added. “We teach them a set of skills that can help people when adversity hits. They can bounce back and they can maintain and grow (from the experience).”
MRT courses are not just useful in deployment preparation, Mason explained. The information students learn during the classes teach important life skills. The class teaches individuals about identifying “icebergs,” or negative thoughts, as well as effective communication skills.
“I believe the skills we teach in this training – if taught properly – will have a ripple effect,” Mason said. “It can change thinking patterns throughout the military and cause true change to happen.
“We don’t go to the field, we don’t deploy or do anything without (performing preventative maintenance checks and services on) our equipment, but we send people out in the world and say ‘go be a Soldier’ without PMCS for their minds,” he continued. “These skills they’ve learned can help them stay on track and help them in life.”
Many of the participants found the information invaluable, not just for improving their professional leadership performance, but also to help them make an impact on the Soldiers and Families they encounter.
Staff Sgt. Carlos Lane, a section leader with 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said his company didn’t have an MRT, and he was selected because of his leadership potential and background as an instructor.
“It’s not like the Army’s intervention programs; this isn’t about intervention or prevention pro- gram,” he said. “This is designed to help Soldiers be more proactive with things like problem solving and how they react to adverse situations.”
Lane said he believes this training can benefit the Army because it is principles-based.
“It’s not centered on a quick-fix solution to Soldiers’ problems,” he said. “It’s basic, easy to understand and easy to apply.
“The principles carry over from professional to personal life,” Lane added. “One skill that I’ve learned that’s going to help me is active listening. We have so many bad habits in how we deal with professional situations. It forces you to really see yourself.”
Lane said that MRT is unlike any Army training he has ever taken.
“Most courses focus on learning how to use equipment or some type of system, but this course forces you to internalize what you’re learning,” he said.
First Sgt. Danilyn McLaurin, 3rd Battalion, 85th In- fantry Regiment, Warrior Transition Battalion, said she was interested in learning more about how become a better and more effective leader. After attending the course, she said that MRT fosters a lifestyle change.
“This class has helped me think about things more,” McLaurin said.
In her 20 years of Army experience, McLaurin said most training is “black and white,” and answers can easily be found in a book.
“In this class, there’s no specific answer,” she said. “It requires you to think about the specific situation at hand.”
The course not only has allowed McLaurin to think about her professional duties, but also how she interacts with her Family. After just five days of training, she said her husband could tell a difference in her demeanor.
“I’m dual military, and when we come home our automatic reaction is the (unload the stresses of the day),” she said. “In this week, it’s opened my eyes. I’m trying to ‘leave the uniform at work.’ I’m trying to think of more positive things and have the energy when we get home.”
McLaurin added that she hopes that by living and leading by example, her Soldiers will “buy in” to the resilience principles she will teach them.
First Lt. John Lemmon, a platoon leader with 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, agreed, add-ing that expectation management also can help when interacting with Soldiers.
“That is extremely important, especially up here at Fort Drum,” he said. “In the summer time, the (operations tempo) picks up exponentially compared to the winter. It’s all about managing expectations. When you can manage your own expectations as a Soldier, I think your unit will operate more efficiently.”
Being able to reach out to Soldiers is another important role for unit MRTs, according to Staff Sgt. Ryan Wilkins, a radar section chief with the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery Regiment, based in New York City.
“You need someone set in place for Soldiers to talk to,” he said. “You have to be that mediator and that individual who can provide guidance to those individuals – especially as an NCO. We’re starting to tap into that part of the brain that we never use. The information is there, but this course is bringing it to life.
“At the company level, a lot of the Soldiers are lower-enlisted,” Wilkins said. “They are predominately younger Soldiers who may not know how to practice resilience, manage energy or communicate with one another. When you break it down to the company level, you’re able to identify and provide guidance.”
Like McLaurin, Wilkins also enjoyed learning about energy management, a skill he says will help at work and at home.
“When we go to work, we use so much energy,” he said. “When we get home, we’re dead in the water and we’re not able to engage with our Families they way I think we’d like to. I think if we utilize energy management, we’ll be able to devote more time and energy to our Families. They are ultimately the driving force for us to be successful in this business.”
Family Members also were represented in the course. Courtney Ryder, an FRG leader with A Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, has been a military spouse for seven years.
She said she enjoyed learning about how to better communicate with others. As an FRG leader, Ryder interacts with Family Members on a regular basis.
“It doesn’t matter if this is your first deployment or your third,” she said. “It’s all different. You might have children this time or you may have moved mid-deployment. These are skills that we can talk about and get to the root of the issue rather than screaming at each other or being depressed or being angry.”
“At the beginning of the class, they warned us that this class could get uncomfortable,” Ryder added. “Life is messy. It’s not always prim and proper and sometimes you’re going to be vul- nerable, but it’s how you assess that and move forward that matters.”

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