News: Army Reserve MRT team helps Soldiers, families get ahead
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Bell
FORT JACKSON, S.C. – Teaching Army Reserve Soldiers how to get ahead of their problems and lead a healthy lifestyle on and off duty--this has been the theme for the 81st Regional Support Command since March when it began the unit's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.
Determined as a top priority for Maj. Gen. Bill Gerety, the 81st RSC commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Luis Blanco, the senior enlisted "Wildcat" Soldier, recent battle assemblies and annual training time have been devoted to ensuring that Soldiers have the right tools and information to implement positive changes in their lives.
"Our number one goal is to ensure that our team walks away with a virtual toolbox full of items they can use to succeed in life," Blanco said. "The commander and I want to ensure that we take care of our Soldiers and their families."
Blanco said he believes in taking a proactive approach, using evidence-based training to strengthen individuals' bodies as well as their minds.
Master Sgt.'s Terry Mahone and Denise Underwood, both master resilience trainers, used interactive-instructional techniques which allowed participants to actively engage in group discussions.
Providing an interactive-learning environment is a key component to success, said Mahone. Acting scenarios, individual and group problem-solving exercises and deep-thinking discussions kept the students alert and engaged in the training.
"We want our team to be well adjusted emotionally, physically, socially, spiritually and have a strong family foundation," Mahone said. "Our goal is to produce resilient Soldiers that can bounce back from adverse situations and not break."
"Everyone has problems," he said. "We have to recognize how to address them."
The mandatory resilience training was implemented Army-wide from basic-level instruction in Army Basic Training to advanced resilience training at the War College level.
Because the training was set as a high priority by Chief of Staff of the United States Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the 81st RSC immediately implemented CSF in the command to ensure Wildcat Soldiers have the valuable information to take home and absorb.
Blanco said the Army Reserve is the greatest military force in the world. "No one can go toe-to-toe with our citizen warriors," Blanco said about the Soldiers who are typically on military duty one weekend a month and several weeks throughout the year. "We ask a tremendous amount of the men and women who wear the uniform part time, and have deployed as much as their active-duty counterparts."
No one is perfect and everyone has issues they need to work through, said Blanco.
"I will admit I have faults, and I learned a tremendous amount of skills which I can put into my back pocket and pull out when needed," he said about the training. "Both NCO instructors surpassed all my goals for their training. I hope we can take the lead and set the standard for future Comprehensive Soldier Fitness training in the Army Reserve."
Underwood said the Army has created this important program because it is committed to improving lives and maximizing Soldiers' potential.
"I hope that Soldiers take away from this training a spirit of excellence and the desire to do better and to strive to be better," she said.
The command has wrapped up the foundational building block training, but both Underwood and Mahone said this was only the beginning and future battle assemblies will reinforce training and introduce additional skills.
"This training fosters unity and connection which became apparent among the Soldiers as they openly shared with the group and one another," Underwood said. "We can all learn from one another."
After the training, one Wildcat Soldier commented that Comprehensive Soldier Fitness will help make the command a more cohesive unit.
"Based on the unit interaction, participation and energy of the training, this experience has reaffirmed for me the need and the desire that Soldiers have to be resilient and strong," Underwood said. "I was amazed at the level of openness, sincerity and honesty shared among the Soldiers."
At the end of the day, the two master trainers both hoped they positively impacted lives and helped shaped the minds of Soldiers to lead more productive lives.
"The training is important to the individual Soldier because it equips Soldiers with better skills and enhances the resilience that resides in us all," Mahone said. "Hopefully, we have prepared Soldiers to better cope with adverse situations when they are faced with them."