News: Soldiers, Fort Carson civilians learn to bounce back
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. - Active-duty soldiers, Colorado National Guardsmen and Fort Carson civilians participated in Master Resilience Training at the headquarters of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, on Fort Carson, Jan. 18-27.
The 10-day class focused on preparing the officers, non-commissioned officers and Fort Carson civilians to effectively pass on the skills they learned to others.
Soldiers can use the tools taught during MRT to deal with challenging situations and recover, or “bounce back,” from difficult experiences, said Katie Curran, a senior Master Resilience trainer from the University of Pennsylvania.
“The goal is to teach a set of skills that will enhance resilience,” Curran said. “We are building self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, strength of character and mental agility.”
“It’s instilling skills that will target, what we know, are teachable about resilience; ultimately, to help people bounce back from adversity and thrive,” she said.
MRT is a key component of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, an Army initiative designed to highlight the importance of physical, emotional, social, familial and spiritual health in the lives of every soldier.
During the first six days of the 10-day train-the-trainer course, Curran, and associates from the University of Pennsylvania, used lectures, classroom discussion and smaller group activities to familiarize the 120 students with the MRT subject material.
On day seven, the students began to focus on teaching the material themselves, preparing to take the skills back to their units and the soldiers they interact with on a daily basis.
“This group is highly engaged, highly motivated, and very enthusiastic about teaching these skills,” Curran said.
The students learned about bad habits and thought patterns to avoid. They also studied good thought patterns and processes they can implement in their own lives, and foster in their troops, said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Gantt, non-commissioned officer in charge, Mobile Training Teams, comprehensive Soldier Fitness office at the Pentagon.
“The skills that we teach are basic leadership,” said Gantt. “We want our leaders to be mentors. We want our leaders to be role models, and we need our leaders to be motivators.”
Many of the students have already used the precepts and skills they learned during the class to improve their professional environments and personal lives, said Sgt. 1st Class Tony Thomas, platoon sergeant, Troop A, 3rd Battalion, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Thomas said he spent the first five days of the course with a negative attitude toward the training.
Thomas said he became argumentative with the instructors, and his attitude made him feel exhausted.
“I’ve been through so many deployments and so many adverse situations, and bounced back on my own, I didn’t think I needed any of this,” Thomas said. “About day six, a light bulb went off in my head. I was thinking about myself; I wasn’t thinking about my soldiers, who could really benefit from this.”
“The values I learned here in the military from my leaders and mentors tell me ‘Never show weakness. Never show you care,’” he said. “Now after this class, I feel like I will be able to relate to them better. I will be able to help them with their problems and overcome their adversities.”
By passing on the MRT training to the soldiers of Troop A, as they prepare for a deployment to Afghanistan, Thomas said he thinks his soldiers will perform more efficiently, and maintain a better overall attitude when facing adversity.
Kimberly Krohn, a financial counselor with Fort Carson’s Survivor Outreach Services, said she believes the MRT philosophy could help her clients, family members of fallen soldiers.
“One of the biggest skills we can teach families of the fallen is resilience,” Krohn said. “If we can help them have the tools in their toolbox to walk away from that most horrific life experience, it really empowers them to have a different outlook on life.”
Optimism and the ability to identify one’s strengths, both key points of MRT, are important skills for grieving Families to develop, said Krohn.