Soldiers begin taking required stress survey
ARLINGTON, Va. — About 18,000 soldiers already have taken an online survey meant to gauge how well they deal with stress, but the required follow-up training won’t be available until Nov. 1, an Army official said Thursday.
Soon, all soldiers will be required to take the survey every two years and complete follow-up training, said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, who oversees the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.
The program is designed in part to curb the Army’s suicide problem, Cornum said. There were 110 confirmed or suspected soldier suicides from January through August, up from 89 during the same period in 2008.
“The reason people commit suicide, by and large, is that they see their problem as there is no solution for it and it’s permanent,” she said. “We believe the resilience training teaches people to look at problems as temporary.”
Commanders are not informed of their soldiers’ results, only that a soldier has completed the survey. The nature of the each soldier’s follow-up training will be determined by how they scored, Cornum, said.
“If you get a lower score, then you’ll probably get training that just talks about what are the basics of becoming, for example, a socially fit person,” Cornum said. “If you score in the middle, like most people will do, you’ll get some [training] to develop some even better skills.
“If you score on the really high end, you are about as socially adaptable as you can be, then what you’ll get is how to use those things to influence the organization you’re in, or the command you’re in, to make it a better environment for everyone else.”
Soldiers who are deployed are required to take the survey within six months of returning home, Cornum said.
The training is still being refined to ensure it is a “high-quality product,” Cornum said.
“I anticipated the [training] modules being available on the first of October and they will not be available until the first of November,” she said.
The Army is moving quickly to establish the program, with suicides still on the rise.
“This is a program that’s being implemented while — it’s kind of like the airplane being built while it’s being flown,” Cornum said.