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Fort Riley takes lead on resilience training

By Staff Sgt. Jerry Griffis | 1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | August 25, 2015

Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division now have a greater advantage against adversity after graduating 19 Soldiers from a Master Resilience Training – Facilitator course at the Victory Center July 31.

The course trains Soldiers to become level-two master resilience trainers and teaches them the skills necessary to facilitate the level-one course in addition to their normal duties. Graduates of the level-one course are able to teach their fellow Soldiers the skills necessary to be resilient and thrive during times of stress and adversity.

Professionals from the Victory Center provide physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual support to Soldiers, families and Department of the Army civilians.

According to Army Regulation 350-53, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, the Army established Master Resilience Training to increase resilience and enhance performance of Soldiers, families and Department of the Army civilians. The regulation defines resilience as the mental, physical, emotional and behavioral ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change and recover, learn and grow from setbacks.

“When we run the level-one course, we have facilitators,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Mason, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness level one and two course coordinator, “and that’s what we are in the process of doing in this course … making more facilitators for Fort Riley.”

Mason said the goal was to create more MRTs across not only Fort Riley, but also the Army. There are more than 550 level-two MRTs throughout the Army and the 19 students that graduated July 31 will move on to create more level-one instructors.

“The effect that we are trying to build across the Army is a ripple effect,” Mason said. “That ripple effect is what is going to cause change and it’s going to help our Soldiers.”

The Master Resilience Program was initiated in 2009, and though it has gone through some revisions over the years, its goal has remained the same – helping Soldiers, families and Department of the Army civilians develop techniques for resilience and enhancing performance while coping with adversity.

“As a program, we believe that people have unlimited potential,” said J. Shawn Perry, Fort Riley training center manager. “We know as leaders that sometimes you have to really encourage and help people discover their unlimited potential.”

This process, which is at the core of the Army’s resilience training, is what the recent graduates hope to instill in the level-one instructors they will now begin teaching.

“I feel that when you come through the level one and they introduce the skills to you, that’s intense in itself,” said Staff Sgt. Derrick Lee, 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, “but level two, when you start to understand everything behind the skills and everything that comes into play and how it’s almost a web of connected skills, to grasp that concept is very challenging.”

The concepts may be challenging, but so is the course itself, said Staff Sgt. Hannah Nunley, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade.

“The class is very intense because it’s a lot of material in a short amount of time,” Nunley said. “We are testing our skills getting ready to go be teachers of teachers.”

Nunley said the skills she learned from the course will enable her and the other students to not only be better battalion-level MRTs, but will also allow the skills they have learned to filter down through their units to the lowest levels. Army leaders requires all company-level elements to have a level-one MRT. Battalion-level MRTs have the ability to instruct level-one trainers and to manage the MRT program for their battalions.

Erin Towner, master resilience trainer and performance expert, described what the students learned as “skills that help people look at patterns that they have in their thinking.”

The trainer said once these skills and patterns are identified, students can then begin looking at these patterns as helpful or a hindrance to their goals and performance.

Towner, who started as a level-one MRT in 2010, said when she first began to work with the Army, there was one motto that always stuck with her. Towner would hear Soldiers say, “Suck it up and drive on,” and always thought how appropriate this was to the course.

“These skills are how to drive on, how a person can suck it up, drive on, get over, get through, bounce back but move forward,” Towner said.

Towner also commented on the importance of communication in relation to the skills taught in the course.

“We look at relationships in terms of communication and how to have stronger relationships, both professionally and personally,” Towner said.

Lee said the key to success with the level-two training is being able to teach MRT skills to lower echelons below the battalion level. “I think if it’s emphasized properly, the effects are endless – from your professional to your personal relationships,” Lee said. “I don’t believe there is a person on this earth that couldn’t benefit from the skills that we learn.”

Mason said the skills taught at MRT classes teach are applicable not to just professional life, but life as well. Mason likened the skills to a toolkit.

“You have a tool to prepare for when an adverse activity happens,” Mason said. “You can pull one of your tools out of your toolkit and it can help you combat that so you can bounce back.”

Mason said he travels throughout the country instructing level-one and level-two courses and there are sometimes people who are skeptical.

“For those people I say, ‘Try it,’” Mason said. “Try the skills on for size, because I think when people try these skills out and actually look at themselves in the mirror then I would venture to say that will change a lot of opinions.”

For more information about master resilience training or other programs at the Fort Riley Victory Center, call 785-239-8835 or visit at 7285 Normandy Dr. on Fort Riley.

Tag Resilience