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Fort Bragg soldiers, spouses learn how to deal with stress of military life

Staff Sgt. Anthony Harris has developed his own hypothesis of what can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

"My personal opinion with PTSD is that it happens because we move so fast," said Harris, a soldier with Fort Bragg's 18th Airborne Corps. "Then we're forced to stop and deal with something, and we don't know how to."

Harris is one of 61 people currently enrolled in a Master Resilience Trainer course at the Fort Bragg Training Education Center.

Participants are learning tools to help themselves and others cope with the fast-paced lifestyle Harris speaks of.

The soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and spouses who complete the course will become certified to conduct formal resilience training.

The Army has long offered resilience training as part of its Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) program as a way of teaching soldiers to deal with the stress of military life.

The current course is the first offered on Fort Bragg that includes spouses.

Half of the participants are spouses. All of them were selected by their respective commands.

Sarah Shultz, a military wife, jumped at the opportunity.

"It has concepts that mean a lot to me," Shultz said. "So I decided to get involved because I thought it was something that I can spread to others and kind of teach them to help themselves."

CSF2 leader Staff Sgt. Julia Smith said those concepts, delineated through 13 life skills taught in the resilience training, help trainees navigate the ups and downs of military life.

"CSF2 is designed to help soldiers and their family members to be able to face adversity and bounce back," Smith said. "We often use the analogy of being the egg or being the tennis ball. You want to be the tennis ball."

Emily Damboise, the wife of a soldier, has been at Fort Bragg for five years and has served as a Family Readiness Group leader for two units. Since she heard of the program in 2010, she said she's been hoping it would come to Fort Bragg.

"This is right up my alley," Damboise said. "This is what I've been doing with our military families already. I feel like I'm coming in with the experience of seeing our families dealing with deployment - before, during and after."

Today was the fourth day of the 10-day course.

The participants were debriefing on their latest lesson, called "Put It in Perspective," before moving on to the next concept, "Dealing with Counterproductive Thoughts in Real Time."

Harris said those items, along with rest of the course's concepts, will become keys to handling stress.

"Overcoming isn't a sporadic thing," Harris said. "Sometimes we think we've overcome a situation by happenstance. But we're learning the tools on how to overcome.
 

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