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Experts equip soldiers to overcome adversity at Fort Bragg

By Amanda Dolasinski | The Fayetteville Observer (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 17, 2016

Experts from some of the Army's most valuable quality-of-life programs came together last week to brief 82nd Airborne Division soldiers on resources they can provide off the battlefield.

The day-long workshop for soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at the Pope Family Readiness Group Center featured experts from the Army Substance Abuse Program, Military & Family Life Counseling Program and others. The workshop allowed soldiers from across the ranks to proactively connect with the experts, as opposed to trying to hunt down help when the time calls for it.

Sgt. Doug Jones, a water treatment specialist with the brigade's support battalion, said he's noticed the Army's push for more resiliency programs over his six-year enlistment.

"It's good (the Army) is getting so much more involved now," he said. "We're not just soldiers, we're men first."

The workshop outlined a variety of resources available to soldiers and their families, including help for substance abuse, counseling to overcome the effects of extended and repeated deployments, setting healthy sleep habits and resources for behavioral health.

These programs are key ways to help a soldier resolve personal problems before they creep onto the battlefield, Jones said.

"If these things aren't taken care of, it'll take you off the mission," he said. "These make sure you're mission-ready."

The workshop was held to bolster the Army-wide Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness plan, which is designed to build resilience and enhance performance so soldiers can cope with adversity and perform better in stressful situations.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Thompson, a master resiliency trainer who helped plan the workshop, said he hoped the soldiers grasped all of the resources available to them.

"I don't want them to feel alone," he said. "I want them to know you don't have to do everything on your own."

Another planner, Sgt. 1st Class James Heyward, said the brigade plans to expand the workshop to include perspectives for families.

The program is so useful because it provides soldiers and their families with tools to overcome negative experiences, he said.

"I want them to take away the skills to bounce back from negative thinking, perform more efficiently and help them in their personal life," Heyward said.

dolasinskia@fayobserver.com

(c) 2016 The Fayetteville Observer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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