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New program helping NCOs adapt to ever-changing Army

Published: 12:01PM September 27th, 2012

The U.S. Army evolves daily; therefore the backbone of the Army, NCOs, must change as well. A new program, Soldier 360, was designed to help NCOs adapt through the motto: learn, do, practice and teach.

Approximately 80 NCOs participated in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s pilot Soldier 360 program at Gwinwood Conference Center in Lacey, Sept. 17 through today.

Soldier 360 provides NCOs comprehensive training that addresses the entire Soldier: stress and anger management, biofeedback, relaxation, yoga, meditation, physical fitness and conditioning, injury prevention, pain management, relationships, communication, conflict resolution, nutrition, sleep, combat stress, post-traumatic stress and alcohol management.

Throughout the course, instructors encouraged participants to record their feelings and experiences in journals as a way to reduce stress and release feelings, psychologist Dr. Glen Wurglitz said.

Most participants said they were attending the class to learn how to better take care of their Soldiers.

“You have to know who you are in order to help your Soldier,” Sgt. Malcolm Bicandi, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps, said.

Wurglitz told participants they would only be able to grow as individuals and leaders if they approached Soldier 360, and their health, with open minds. He and other doctors taught NCOs that stress has physical effects like slowing the ability to heal.

After each lecture, NCOs discussed the lesson and shared different points of view. Participants were told to listen to each other, trust themselves as well as others.

In one exercise designed to enhance those skills, the “fish bowl” exercise, four participants sat in the center of the room facing each other, revealing private, personal information to develop trust.

“The fish bowl exercise was deep. Everyone has struggles and opened up. It was refreshing,” said Staff Sgt. Marshay Harper, a supply NCO in Company A, 47th Combat Support Hospital. “We found a way to trust each other and that is a beautiful thing.”

Instructors also introduced the NCOs to basic yoga techniques every morning during an hourlong class. The last two days of class, some married participants invited their spouses to couples’ yoga.

“I learned better ways to care for myself, so I can focus on Soldiers and training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Timmons, a 46th Aviation Support Battalion platoon sergeant. “The course was very beneficial. The intent was surpassed. Everyone got something out of it,” Harper said.