Building resilience, enhancing performance,’ key to soldier, family fitness

Thursday, May 01, 2014

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare has recently released a new publication.

"Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness: Building Resilience, Enhancing Performance" (Torchbearer Issue Paper, March 2014) discusses an Army program designed to ensure that members of the Army community continue to thrive in their professional and personal lives.

During the protracted conflict of the early 2000s, the Army recognized the need to build resilience throughout the force to maintain readiness and ensure the well-being of the entire Army community.

Therefore, it took immediate steps to develop preventive, proactive measures to improve the total health of its soldiers.

In 2009, it formally established the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program – later expanded and renamed Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2).

CSF2 comprises both online self-development opportunities and formal training to build emotional, social, spiritual, family and physical fitness.

Soldiers, family members and Army civilians are able to take an online, confidential self-assessment measuring several areas of strength.

Following completion of this assessment, the user instantly receives specific feedback and results based on his or her responses.

CSF2 recently developed a social media platform called ArmyFit through which users can learn how to improve their fitness, engage in online challenges and competitions, track their progress and more.

They can also interact with guided self-development videos that supplement formal CSF2 training.

Since the program’s inception, the Army has also established a requirement for all Soldiers to receive annual training in 12 resilience skills.

To make this training available across the Army community, the program has already certified more than 20,000 soldiers, family members (statutory volunteers) and Army civilians as master resilience trainers (MRTs) who, in turn, teach the skills of resilience to others.

CSF2 must train at least 7,700 new MRTs per year to provide at least one per Army company, one per company-size family readiness group and one per 250 Army civilians.

The most recent peer-reviewed report of the program’s independent evaluation and research group showed significantly lower incident rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and drug and alcohol abuse in units with MRTs than in those units without trainers.

Previous reports determined that the benefit from CSF2 training has been most pronounced in Soldiers who were 18–24 years old and that the program worked best in units where local leadership endorsed the program.

Reports due later in 2014 will calculate the program’s financial return on investment, specifically focusing on how the training results in cost savings due to decreased attrition from the Army and decreased medical treatment.

Other recent developments include the establishment of 16 CSF2 training center locations across the country; the creation of a MRT training program aimed specifically at Army leaders at and above the company level; the successful completion of a pilot training program designed for Army spouses (statutory volunteers); and the launching of a curriculum for teens that will become available at CSF2 training centers during spring 2014.

The Army is people.

Ensuring their well-being now and in the future is the surest way to sustain the all-volunteer force.

The early successes of the CSF2 program have shown that resilience training must endure in the institutional Army – well beyond the conclusion of any particular overseas operation.

This Torchbearer Issue Paper may be read online in its entirety at http://www.ausa.org/publications/ilw/DigitalPublications/Documents/tbip-.... Other ILW publications are available online at http://www.ausa.org/ilw and can also be obtained by calling (800) 336-4570, Ext. 4630, or by e-mailing a request to [email protected].