The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey reviewed the first Master Resilience Training class of 150 non-commissioned officers Monday.

The 10-day course, designed and led by Penn Positive Psychology Center Director Martin Seligman and Penn Resiliency Project Director Karen Reivich, is designed to increase the overall mental health of Army personnel.

Master Resilience Training, part of an overarching Army initiative called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, is designed to train Army personnel to teach mental resiliency techniques to the soldiers in their command, Seligman said.

The end goal of the program is to have one Master Resiliency Trainer per battalion by the end of next year, Casey said.

According to Casey, the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness initiative was conceived when it became clear that long-term troop deployment overseas would be inevitable in the face of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a result, the resiliency techniques taught in the program aim to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other forms of mental illness in the armed forces.

“This is an integral part of being a better soldier, and the one thing I know about men and women in the Army is they all want to be better soldiers,” Casey said.

The establishment of this Army-wide mental health training program represents a major policy shift for the military. Army mental health efforts have traditionally focused on treatment, not prevention, and there is considerable stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment within the armed forces.

Casey acknowledged the difficulties the program will face.

“I’m not trying to coat this all flowery and say it’s going to be easy. It’s not,” Casey said. “We’re going to do this one non-commissioned officer at a time … They’re the ones who are going to help 10 soldiers.”

Seligman reported he was “pleasantly surprised” by the soldiers’ receptiveness to and retention of the techniques.

He noted that they performed better on initial comprehension tests than the teachers who were the project’s original participants. Also, a feedback survey distributed at the halfway point of the course received no negative comments.

“A soldier said to me, ‘If I’d had this training three years ago, I’d still be married,’” Seligman said.

Casey commented briefly on the investigation into the Nov. 5 shooting at Fort Hood, saying that it was too soon in the investigation to know whether there was a link between the mental health of gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan and the shooting. He added that his thoughts and prayers were with the families of the victims. The first funerals of the 13 victims took place last weekend.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.