Some GI skills translate to everyday life

By Erin Prater Published: June 3, 2013 | 12:50 pm 0

Twenty-four military spouses silently sat in a dim room. Their eyes were closed.

If not for the whirring of fans and the recording of a male voice, one could have heard a pin drop.

"Totally relax," the voice commanded in a slow, even tone. "Let all the tension flow out as you exhale and relax."

The spouses were practicing tactical breathing, a combat skill regularly taught to soldiers to help them take control of their vitals during life-threatening situations.

The exercise was part of a recent 10-day Master Resiliency Training class for Army spouses - the first of its kind at Fort Carson and the second of its kind Army-wide.

All soldiers go through the training, which aims to build resilience by teaching skills including emotional awareness, impulse control and putting situations in perspective.

The program's skills can be used in taxing situations on the homefront, during a stressful move or when a spouse is deployed and a child is hospitalized, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Trice said.

"It's not just soldiers who need resiliency," said Trice, who oversees Master Resiliency Training at Fort Carson. "These aren't military leadership skills. They're life skills that we can apply to everyday life."

Students, many of whom volunteer with on-post organizations and family readiness groups, went through a rigorous application process, Trice said.

They had to be recommended by their spouses' commanders, commit to attending the entire course and agree to pass on the skills they learn to others in informal conversations and at formal classes they'll be asked to teach.

"The key is paying it forward and spreading that knowledge," Trice said. "We want to infect people with resiliency."

Eleanor Rolfe, the wife of a Fort Carson bomb technician, enrolled in the course to improve herself as an Army spouse and gain tools to help younger wives in her husband's unit.

"This is an opportunity for me to gain tools to help with the Army life," Rolfe said.

Before enrolling in the course, Rolfe, who has weathered numerous deployments and moves, thought she was resilient.

By the end of the course, her definition of resiliency changed, and she realized she had more work to do, she said.

"I don't think I fully grasped the concept of being self-aware and how that plays a part in resiliency," she said.

Jarold Montefalcon, the husband of a Fort Carson military policewoman, was one of two husbands who participated in the class.

Montefalcon, who went through similar training when he served as an Army mechanic, enrolled in the course so he could lead classes for the battalion family readiness group he heads.

His top takeaway from the course: Resiliency is a process, not a destination.

"It's like brushing your teeth - you don't do it just once," he said.

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Contact Erin Prater: 636-0304, erin.prater@gazette.com

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