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Soldiers focus on mental readiness

19th Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 11:31AM January 24th, 2013

In a battle to fight depression and post-traumatic stress, 17th Fires Brigade conducted Soldiers’ Resiliency Training and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, Jan. 10 to 17.

Throughout the training, 17th Fires Bde. representatives applied real-life scenarios, personal experiences, and video presentations to alert Soldiers of the different struggles the Army faces and how they can affect mission readiness. The training focused on sexual assault, family advocacy and suicide prevention.

Although the training is familiar to most Soldiers, it should be done annually, said Sgt. 1st Class Derek A. White, an Equal Opportunity adviser and a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for 17th Fires Bde.

“We constantly have new Soldiers coming into the military, and the rest of us need a refresher sometimes,” he said.

To prevent sexual assaults, 17th Fires Bde. has installed cameras in the common areas of the single-Soldiers living quarters. Resiliency training is used to discuss how sexual assaults can affect unit readiness, and reinforce the unit’s zero-tolerance policy.

Another focus of the resiliency training was the Family Advocacy Program, which is committed to building strong relationships for Soldiers and their Families by offering training and activities to enhance mission readiness. The program is also designed to treat and prevent cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.

White said the goal is to continuously address the problem to help people become aware, watchful and protect themselves and others.

“This training is effective,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Matthew J. Hebebrand with 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment.

The training, which also addresses suicide prevention, provides resources for Soldiers to communicate and seek help for themselves or each another.

Hebebrand said Soldiers exercising active listening and developing trust is helpful. Small problems can turn into big ones if Soldiers have no one to confide in, he said.

“Soldiers can become consumed with missions that they have to execute, and sometimes they fail to notice a fellow Soldier may need to talk or have something going on in their life,” Hebebrand said. “You can’t force people to care,” he said.

Though empathy can’t be contrived, Hebebrand said, teaching people to care and respond in situations could be beneficial.

Chaplains and their assistants also offered ASIST training to teach Soldiers how to become first responders to mental crises.

Hebebrand said he knows firsthand that the training works with Soldiers who found themselves in crises. The training helped them to identify issues and resolve them. Just because a wound isn’t physical, doesn’t mean a person isn’t hurt, Hebebrand said.

“Sit down, listen, empathize and really care,” he said. “There are several people alive today because of this.” By offering these strength-based, resiliency training methods to Soldiers and leaders, units are promoting growth and the ability for Soldiers to face challenges and bounce back from adversity.

ASIST workshops help to teach an array of suicide prevention and intervention skills to better assist Soldiers and Family members through difficult issues in their lives.

Army personnel interested in attending ASIST training should contact their command suicide prevention program manager for course locations and enrollment information.