The terms “readiness” and “resilience” have been watchwords in the Army for a number of years, aiming to improve Soldiers’ preparedness not just physically and academically, but also emotionally, for the extremes of battle. But what has the Army gained from any of its initiatives along these lines?
This question was answered in part by way of a professional presentation on Readiness and Resilience provided by Ron Ellyson, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command clinical staff officer, during the Society of Army Physician Assistants Refresher Course in Fayetteville, North Carolina, April 25-27, 2017.
The presentation, titled “Readiness and Resilience: What These Are, and What They Can Mean to Soldiers,” was presented in poster format, using material collected from data supplied by the 16th Ordnance Battalion, 59th Ordnance Brigade, at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The presentation covered the background of the Army’s focus on readiness and resilience, beginning in about 2007 with the institution of Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, or CSF2, followed by publication of an order in 2012 directing collaboration of a number of agencies and programs to promote readiness and resilience, also referred to as R2.
The R2 order included legacy programs, such as chaplain and behavioral health services, Army Community Service, and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs, and adds more recent programs such as CSF2, the Penn Resiliency Program, Master Fitness Trainers, and the performance triad, which consists of activity, nutrition and sleep.
In January 2016, the 59th Ordnance Brigade, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee Virginia, implemented a “Platoon Honors” program, which focused on the Soldierization of trainees. More specifically, the program incentivized exceptional training, education and discipline using Army Value streamers. The goals included developing character, reducing indiscipline, and associating behaviors and privileges with Army Values.
The 16th Ordnance Battalion, which provides advanced individual training for wheel vehicle mechanics and Stryker system maintainers, took the challenge and produced the following results:
- Reduction in disciplinary actions across the battalion by 40 percent
- Reduction in separations for unsatisfactory performance because of Army Physical Fitness Test failures by 28 percent
- Improvement in number of Soldiers attaining 270 and above on APFT (maximum score is 300) by 17 percent
- Increased number of Soldiers policing themselves and battle buddies
- Increase in Soldiers holding other Soldiers accountable for indiscipline or declining to participate in indiscipline.
- Increase in unit cohesion and teamwork – Soldiers supporting those who struggle with physical readiness training, academics and other areas. Soldiers created weekend run groups and study sessions
- Improvement in academic scores and averages
- Increase in Soldiers’ willingness to volunteer for Community Connect events.
Companies in the 16th Ordnance Battalion earned “Platoon Honors” guidon streamers to distinguish them in this effort.
The honors program gave Soldiers attainable goals, while simultaneously building character and strengthening Army Values, said 1st Sgt. Charles Vanzandt, first sergeant of B Company, 16th Ordnance Battalion.
“This will make them an asset to their unit on Day One of their first units of assignment,” Vanzandt said.
Spc, Juan Castellanos, a wheeled vehicle mechanic student in E Company, 16th Ordnance, said the honors program helps instill the discipline and traits the Soldiers learned in basic training.
“As a new platoon, it gives us something to strive for, to be a part of the team and be a part of the company,” Castellanos added.
The 16th Ordnance Battalion’s actions to improve resilience proved to be effective measures to maintain physical, academic and emotional health, as shared through Ellyson’s presentation. The information Ellyson provided was well received by SAPA attendees, with some healthcare providers showing interest by in similarly assessing the effectiveness of R2 programs in Army populations they serve.