Military Resiliency Training
Military resiliency training refers to the training programs that support military personnel and their families in the development of mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral toughness. Resiliency training is designed to help people cope with adversity, adapt to change, and overcome challenges. It is believed that the implementation of military resiliency training promotes good mental health and improves the performance of military personnel.
What Is Military Resiliency Training?
Resiliency training is provided in order to give soldiers the best possible chance at survival and success before, after, and during their service. The United States Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program (CSF2), which is an element of the US Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign, is an example of this type of training. Established in 2009, this program is used to increase resilience among soldiers, their families, and Army civilians.
CSF2 is comprised of the following three components:
- Online assessment: Soldiers, their families, and Army civilians can use tools like the Global Assessment Tool (GAT) 2.0 to assess their health across five dimensions of strength: emotional, social, spiritual, family, and physical.
- Training: Different training programs such as the Master Resilience Trainer course (MRT), Institutional Resilience Training (IRT), and Performance Enhancement are provided in order to enhance resiliency.
- Research and evaluation: Through the support of both internal and external organizations, training programs and tools are evaluated on a regular basis to ensure the efficacy of programs like CSF2.
The MRT course focuses on protective factors like self-efficacy, optimism, and emotional awareness. It involves the following curriculum:
- The MRT Preparation Component: This component encompasses the first eight days of the training. Five days are spent on skill building, and the other three days focus on the train-the-trainer portion. The skill-building portion includes the following modules:
- Module 1 – Resilience: Trainees receive an overview of the six core competencies of resilience and are taught the key principles that foster resilience.
- Module 2 – Building Mental Toughness: Trainees learn the various skills that enhance the six core competencies. These skills—testing faulty beliefs, problem solving, and so on—build on cognitive behavioral theories.
- Module 3 – Identifying Character Strengths: In this module, trainees learn to overcome challenges by using individual and team strengths in activities connected to the Army’s “Be, Know, Do” model of leadership.
- Module 4 – Strengthening Relationships: This module focuses on communication, praise, and constructive responses, teaching trainees how to use these and other techniques to improve their relationships.
- The MRT Sustainment Component: This component takes place on day nine of the training and focuses on the application of skills learned, teaching trainees to apply skills within the context of their military careers, both pre- and post-deployment.
- The MRT Enhancement Component: This final component of the training focuses on skill-building activities derived from sports psychology, such as goal setting, confidence building, and attention control.
The History of Military Resiliency Training
Resilience has been a topic of psychological study since the 1970s. Over the years, research has demonstrated that resilience—the ability to recover quickly from challenge or change—can be taught. In 1990, positive psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania developed the Penn Resilience Program (PRP), which used principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to help teach depression prevention skills and resiliency to children and adolescents.
The PRP was shown to be effective in the treatment and prevention of anxiety, depression, and adjustment issues, and when the Master Resilience Trainers course was developed by the Positive Psychology Center and the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program in early 2009, a large portion of the training was adapted from the program.
Why the Military Needs Mental Health Solutions
Research has shown that military personnel and veterans are at high risk for mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress (PTSD), depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and that these issues often go untreated. Approximately 20% of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD and/or depression, but only about 50% of those diagnosed sought treatment.
When left untreated, mental health concerns such as these often become worse and may lead to suicidal ideation. Research shows that the suicide rate among veterans is higher than it is among those who have not served in the military, and studies indicate that nearly 30 out of every 100,000 veterans will attempt suicide. The current veteran suicide rate averages at about 22 suicides per day.
The shootings that took place in Fort Hood, Texas in 2009 and 2014 heightened awareness of the importance of mental health treatment and assessment among military personnel. Resiliency training is just one of the ways the military is working to address these mental health concerns. Proposals have also been made to require psychological evaluations and screenings for Marine recruits, in the hope that these assessments will make for a more combat-ready and resilient Marine Corps.
The Future of Military Resiliency Training
In addition to the Ready and Resilient campaign and the Marine Corps’ proposed screenings, the Department of Defense is making further efforts to protect its soldiers and civilians with mindfulness training.
Mindfulness training, which can help soldiers learn how to use meditation to stay present, avoid attention lapses, and mentally prepare for dangerous missions, may be of benefit to soldiers returning from combat as well as those preparing to deploy. Studies suggest that mindfulness training, even when delivered in a brief format, can improve resilience, enhance performance, and help prevent the development of stress-related mental health issues.
Resilience encourages optimal performance and allows for efficient use of both physical and emotional skills. Military personnel with higher resiliency have been shown to be able to recover more quickly from difficult situations both in combat and in their personal lives. Thus, preventative efforts like MRT and mindfulness training are beginning to be considered essential to the mental and physical health of military personnel and their families.
- 22 Veterans Commit Suicide Daily. (2014, August 12). In The Battle Buddy Foundation. Retrieved from http://tbbf.org/22-veterans-commit-suicide-daily/08-2014.
- CSF2 FAQ’s. (n.d.). In Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness. Retrieved from http://csf2.army.mil/faqs.html.
- Gregoire, C. (2015, February 18). Mindfulness training improves resilience of active-duty soldiers. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/18/mindfulness-military-_n_6704804.html.
- Paul, A. M. (2012, April 19). Can you instill mental toughness? The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2012/04/19/can-you-instill-mental-toughness.
- Perkins, D. (2015, February 4). Marine Corps Times. Dunford proposes psych evals for poolees, recruits. Retrieved from http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/careers/2015/02/04/psych-evals-for-marine-recruits/22545165/
- Ready and Resilient. (n.d.). In Mil Features. Retrieved from http://www.army.mil/readyandresilient.
- Reivich, K. J., Seligman, M. E., & McBride, S. (2011, January). Master resilience training in the U.S. Army. American Psychologist, 66(1), 25-34. doi:10.1037/a0021897.
- Resilience and performance skills. (n.d.). In Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness. Retrieved from http://csf2.army.mil/downloads/Skills_Sheet.pdf.
- Tanielian, T., & Jaycox, L. H. (Eds.). (2008). Invisible Wounds of War Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG720.pdf.
- University of California – San Diego. (2014, May 16). War and Peace (of Mind): Mindfulness training for military could help them deal with stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140516092519.htm.
- Zarembo, A. (2015, January 14). Detailed study confirms high suicide rate among recent veterans. LA Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-veteran-suicide-20150115-story.html.
Last Updated: 01-11-2017
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JosephFebruary 16th, 2017 at 6:53 PM
I was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX as the company Resilience trainer, and I can tell you for a fact that it’s BS. The Army lies about the training. I was forced to fake training lessons to make time for other training.
LauraMay 3rd, 2017 at 2:12 AM
I live in Western Massachusetts and have dealt with PTSD for over 30 years as well as being a widow and am from a military family. I am also a retired Police Officer and am looking for a institution that trains people in Military Resilience. So far all I can find is Universities that are in another state. Any suggestions? I feel a serious calling for this.
MartinMay 9th, 2017 at 12:06 PM
Maam, Please take a look at Liberty University, it has online and residential programs dedicated to Military Resilience.
ToddAugust 1st, 2020 at 10:02 PM
Laura, as a fellow Veteran and career LEO, THANK YOU!
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