JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Military commanders learned the value of taking care of themselves and looking after the troops they lead during an event focused on resiliency hosted by the Vogel Resiliency Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Nov. 30.
“The Gift of Presence: Resiliency Reset,” included a series of presentations and activities for company level commanders at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston on resiliency issues and services and programs offered at the Vogel Resiliency Center and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
Thirty-two command level teams participated in the first ever Resiliency Reset event at the VRC, which opened its doors in January.
The commanders were put into groups, each rotating to different stations to hear presentations and participate in activities.
Giving presentations and conducting activities were representatives from the Military and Family Life Counselor Program, the Family Life Program, financial counseling, Army Public Health, Joint Base Substance Abuse Program, Suicide Prevention Program, Ready & Resiliency Performance Center and Risk Reduction, and a chaplain.
Leslie Noel, Joint Base Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator, said the objective of the event is to educate company level commanders about self-care for themselves and the active-duty members they lead in their companies.
Maj. Sharon Douglas, Public Health Nursing chief at Brooke Army Medical Center, said the number one struggle facing active-duty members are issues related to mental health, including stress, anxiety and depression.
Douglas said she is no different from anyone else in the service in dealing with stress, citing stressors related to her job and her family.
“As long as you’re living in this body, as long as you’re on this earth, there are going to be some struggles,” Douglas said.
The nurse said dealing with stress and personal struggles requires human interaction and connectedness. She then passed on to the company commanders the three ABCs of being connected: (A) accept that everyone has a struggle; (B) be proactive, find at least one person that can be an accountability partner and with both of you assisting each other; and (C) cultivate meaningful relationships with co-workers and family members.
Douglas said active duty members who have families should utilize the time they have with them when they are at home and not have distractions, such as electronic and smart phone devices, interfere with those family interactions.
“Make sure that we make those family times sacred,” she said.
Lori Alexander, Family Life Program educator, conducted “The 5 Minute Challenge” exercise with attendees.
In the exercise, servicemembers were handed a sheet of paper with a list of 15 activities they had to try and do within the five-minute period, including making a paper airplane and throwing it from one end of the room to another and making a tower of materials owned by servicemembers seated at a table.
Each of the activities had a point value, ranging from five to 15 points.
Alexander said the objective of the exercise is to show people how important it is to manage and use their time effectively, prioritizing those things that are most important to them in their life, or that have a high point value.
She told the servicemembers that during the holiday season they should make time to connect with people.
“Give some of your time connecting and communicating in a positive way,” Alexander said. “That’s going to be remembered. These are what holiday memories and moments are made of.”
Other activities included the smelling of spices as a form of meditation.
Capt. Julliet Thomas, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research company commander, said the aromas from the spices were relaxing.
“It gave us the time to just stop and relax and meditate, just for a moment to focus on ourselves – total body from head to toe,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the Resiliency Reset event stressed to her the importance of servicemembers taking care of themselves.
“It definitely serves as a reminder that as leaders we so often are always focused on taking care of the Soldiers taking care of the mission, but we definitely can’t do that to the best of our ability if we don’t take care ourselves,” she said.
1st Lt. Justin Smith, 264th Medical Battalion Alpha Company executive officer, said the Resiliency Reset was a good refresher on going over relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms that can be utilized for dealing with stress.