JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas —
Through interactive activities and exercises, servicemembers at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis learned about the importance of establishing connections with themselves and others, during a resiliency event conducted by the Vogel Resiliency Center April 12.
Approximately 200 members of the 549th Military Intelligence Battalion, an unit with both Army active and reserve components located at JBSA-Camp Bullis, participated in the event which consisted of a four-station round robin format of activities and presentations about personal finance, wellness, stress and programs and services focused on substance abuse, suicide prevention and other issues and problems encountered by servicemembers on a daily basis.
This was the first resiliency event held at JBSA-Camp Bullis put on by the Vogel Resiliency Center, located at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, in which all programs and services under VRC participated at the same time.
Command Sgt. Major Mark Quinn, 549th MIB senior enlisted advisor to the battalion commander, said having the resiliency event allowed battalion members from different companies and units to meet and communicate with each other.
“To get our people in one place to do an event like this makes for a much better turnout and impact on the Soldiers overall,” Quinn said. “Any time we are focusing on our Soldiers and their resiliency, giving them the tools to help themselves, that’s a good thing.”
VRC director Patricia Ruiz said the objective of the resiliency event was to engage servicemembers through interactive presentations and exercises.
“They weren’t being lectured. They were involved,” Ruiz said. “I think we do much better when we are involved in the learning process.”
VRC staff members came up with different approaches for servicemembers to interact with each other, while teaching them a resiliency skill they could use in their daily life to deal with a problem or issue.
At the station on personal finance, John Rangel, Military and Family Life counselor, and Geremy Chavez, personal financial counselor, prepared an interactive-scenario based skit in which a military couple is discussing the family’s finances. In the first skit, servicemembers portraying the couple set a tone of being angry, arguing and pointing fingers at each other, while in the second skit, acted by Rangel and Chavez, the couple sets a positive tone by listening, praising each other and finding a compromise to solve their financial issue.
“We wanted to show how money can disconnect and connect you in your relationship by the way you communicate,” Rangel said. “You get them involved in participation and role-playing. They start experiencing it instead of being lectured.”
Staff members from the Army Wellness Center and the Ready & Resilient Center came up with a unique interactive exercise for servicemembers at their station. They had the 549th MIB members march in place while trying to read and answer general knowledge questions on a board in 10 seconds. Those servicemembers who answered correctly stayed in front of the line, those who missed it had to go to the back of the line.
Marielle Bosquez, Army Wellness Center health educator, said the purpose of the march in place activity was to create a stressful situation by getting the heart rate of the servicemembers up, so they can find ways to handle stress that will come up in daily situations.
Capt. Joseph Jeffers of the 549th MIB liked the marching in place exercise.
“It was talking about resiliency and dealing with stress,” Jeffers said. “That exercise was about how to manage and recognize stress, which is what every Soldier will go through.”
Jeffers said he liked the type of activities, including games and quizzes, VRC staff members came up with to get the servicemembers involved.
“I definitely enjoyed (VRC) making it interactive, tying it in to the relevance of their services,” he said. “I learned more about how much they have to offer. We are always getting new Soldiers. They need to be aware of the services available to them.”
After the completion of the resiliency event, the VRC held a Resiliency Fair for the servicemembers at JBSA-Camp Bullis. At the fair, servicemembers got the chance to talk to VRC staff members and get information about programs and services and referrals, if needed. In addition, the VRC gave away promotional items for their services and programs and held raffles and giveaways.
Spc. Christina Raymond of the 540th MIB said the event and fair were educational because it expanded her knowledge on resiliency services and programs offered by military and non-military sources.
“I like it had a lot of resources for various things Soldiers go through,” she said.
Ruiz said the resiliency event and fair allowed VRC to expand its outreach to servicemembers beyond JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
“We go where we think the need is and draw more awareness for resiliency and the VRC,” Ruiz said.