KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Resilience is the capacity to recover from life’s difficulties; the ability to be knocked down by life and come back as strong as before. Some people come by it naturally, succeeding despite incredibly difficult circumstances.
Even if someone doesn’t come by it as natural as other people, the good news is that resilience can be learned, said Chief Master Sgt. Monte Snyder, a master resilience trainer in the 403rd Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit on Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.
Snyder teaches Airmen skills in nine areas that enhance resilience, one of the core tenets of the Air Force’s Comprehensive Airman Fitness, which encompasses creating Airmen with solid mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being. Snyder, and other MRTs, instruct new Airmen about the topic at the First Term Airmen Center here. These skill sets and tools include gratitude or looking for the good, values based goals, bringing strengths, reframe or control how one reacts, balanced thinking, celebrating good news, mindfulness and physical resilience.
“It’s not a one-time course and you are done, but a continual process of building those types of skills into your daily routine,” he said. “People can learn to better regulate their emotions and choose how they react to events, which can have lasting effects. As life events come up, a person can ask themselves, ‘What is the best response or reaction to this situation and what tools should I use that help the most?’ We want them to incorporate this training into their daily lives.”
Snyder said the purpose of increasing resilience awareness and training is driven by the Air Force initiative to create a culture where Airmen are comfortable seeking and receiving assistance.
Everyone goes through difficult times and has set backs. Kevin Waterhouse, the 403rd Wing secretary and an MRT, knows a few things about life stressors having almost lost his life in a car accident when he was 17 years old. His spinal cord was separated in three places that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
He said being in a wheel chair has taught him a lot about resiliency. Despite this setback, he didn’t let it stop him from achieving his goals, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and helping others along the way.
“Resiliency is having faith that no matter what happens, you are going to have the strength to get through it or that you already have the strength to get through it,” said Waterhouse. “You just have to learn how to tap into it. Any skill can be learned.”
Snyder and Waterhouse assist with teaching the course at the FTAC. Being a Reserve unit, the closest organization the wing has to this is the Developmental and Training Flight, which is unique to the Air Force Reserve.
Master Sgt. Chasity Roush is the 403rd Wing D & TF chief and prepares the 60 newly recruited Air Force Reserve enlistees, who are members of the flight, for Basic Military Training.
Roush became an MRT in March because she has a personal interest in psychology, having a master’s degree in the subject. She said she likes helping people and is also able to incorporate these lessons into the D & TF curriculum.
Much of the MRT course is interactive and requires personal engagement and sharing of information, she said.
“It’s a great program that teaches Airmen positive coping skills and also promotes a positive culture change overcoming the stigma around getting help,” said Roush.
According to Snyder and Waterhouse, in addition to teaching at the FTAC, they said the wing plans to start offering the course to reservists during Unit Training Assemblies and incorporate the subject into Wingman Day.
To become a certified MRT, one first must become a Resilient Trainer Assistant, which takes about three days, then attend a week-long MRT course. Snyder, Waterhouse and Roush provide the RTA course to unit members, and the next Keesler MRT training course is scheduled for Sept. 16-20.
Airmen who complete the course are then able to teach others resilience skills and assist in the management of resilience events at their bases, said Waterhouse.
Wing members who are interested in becoming an RTA or MRT, should contact their wing Director of Psychological Health.