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March 25, 2013

Indiana Guard takes proactive approach to soldier stress

 

The National Guard is looking for new and proactive ways to help leaders recognize the ways service members react to stress and what causes it.

Piggy-backing on the Master Resilience Trainer course, a two-week class managed by the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program, the Indiana National Guard offers a condensed one-week curriculum to junior leaders across the state called the Resilience Trainer Assistant course.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Bozarth, an RTA instructor at the 138th Regional Training Institute at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, said the class, as well as the MRT curriculum it’s based upon, represents a more proactive approach to suicide prevention than has been used in the past.

“This is not like our typical suicide awareness training classes that help identify at-risk soldiers,” Bozarth said. “Rather, this class teaches leaders to identify how soldiers react to different kinds of stresses so we can help those soldiers learn how to better handle everyday situations in an effort to keep those soldiers from ever getting to that point where they feel like they have to take their own lives.”

The Indiana National Guard’s RTA program has caught the attention of other military organizations that wish to duplicate the quality of the curriculum. Master Sgt. Sophia Mendoza, the training management noncommissioned officer for the 79th Sustainment Support Command, Army Reserve, Los Alamitos, Calif., attended the RTA course at Camp Atterbury in January to build a similar curriculum for Army Reserve soldiers in her command.

“Our command wants to put together an RTA course, and we don’t want to recreate the wheel,” she said. “We’ve been looking at what Indiana has done so that we can duplicate what they have already put together here.”

Mendoza said Indiana was very welcoming to her when she asked to attend, but that what she saw was much more than what she anticipated.

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