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August 30, 2012

ACS helps make FH Soldiers and Families more resilient

Army Community Service on Fort Huachuca is aiming to help Soldiers and their Families to become more resilient in a not-so-physical way.

ACS has been offering the resiliency training on Fort Huachuca since October 2010 for Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians. A more recent program established to help not only those in the military is the Resilient Spouse Academy, which was created in November 2011.

Both programs focus on teaching resiliency with additional information being given in the spouses’ program. “The resilience training that we have is a full two day training for the resiliency skills, for the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness,” said Exceptional Family Member Program Manager Audrey Peterson-Hosto.

“In the Resilient Spouse Academy we have all these other activities also, so it is still the full two days of resiliency training then the other parts of the academy the last three days,” she added.

Peterson-Hosto said ACS has changed the program in certain ways and has found that offering the resilience training the first two days works really well, “because now they have those skills and being with the group an additional three days they are really talking the language and really have that self awareness that leads to change, positive change.”

The courses are offered quarterly and free of charge.

“I personally think that the resiliency program is probably one of the missing links to suicide prevention, I really believe that. When we teach Soldiers how to handle situations and how to bounce back from just daily life we are equipping them with the tools necessary to keep going, and now we are teaching their spouses how to support them and then support themselves and their family,” said Stacy Jones, director, Army Community Service.

“I think it is a vital program. We are so committed to this program because it has a positive impact on everybody who participates. It should absolutely be mandatory for active-duty Soldiers but when we get our spouses in, we love them dearly,” Jones added.

During the Resilient Spouse Academy, the spouses are taught what resources are available to them on the installation. Everything from Army Substance Abuse Program, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Raymond W. Bliss, ACS services and Child and Youth Services is covered and shown in the academy.

Free childcare and lunch is provided all week to spouses who want to participate. Not only can active duty spouses attend but also retired and DoD civilian spouses.

“We just love the program and will continue to do it. I have noticed for all of the ACS staff that have participated in this training or received the training, it has made a paradigm shift,” Jones said. “In all of my heart, it is a real-time solution to solving problems, and I think it is one of the better programs the Army has put out for families right now and for Soldiers.”

The Resilient Spouse Academy is one of the new creations that Jennifer Rickert brought here and, “we really wanted to support it because the impact that it has made is really priceless,” Jones added.

“Just based on our evaluations for both the resilience training and the resilience spouse, that we get in return is that they are really excited about it and some have even said its absolutely changed their life, and so the overall response as far as our evaluations has been very very positive,” Peterson-Hosto said.

“Some of the other testimonials we have had, they said even if something didn’t specifically apply to them, say they had no children and there’s the information on CYS services, that’s something they can pass on to somebody else. The networking that comes out of that is just unbelievable. And rather than spouses feeling isolated they become friends with the other spouses there at the training, they really start to network and they not only help themselves but then they start helping others as well,” Peterson added.

The Resilience Training averages about 10 to 15 people per course, and the Resilient Spouse Academy averages 20 to 25 but the numbers fluctuate.

“I think Stacey [Jones] hit the nail on the head; this is really one of those first steps to preventing suicides. It is so very important. A lot of individuals out there that didn’t learn resilience through life. Things were easy, things were given to them, … and so any time there was an adversity it was taken care of for them so they didn’t learn how to resolve it themselves. So really, what we are doing, is teaching them the skills that they need to recognize issues or be self aware and the skills to change those patterns of behavior or thought and really work towards a more positive outcome,” Peterson said.

The next Resilience Training is Oct. 17 – 18, and Resilient Spouse Academy is Dec. 3 – 7. Call 533.2330 for more information.




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