Sustaining the Force

Article excerpt

The withdrawal of Forces underway in Iraq and pending in Afghanistan points for many to the end of a decade at war. For Reserve Soldiers, it could translate into a hiatus from a dizzying blur of deployments, redeployments, homecomings and farewell ceremonies. The death of Bin Laden and evidence retrieved from his compound yielded a crushing blow to the Al Qaeda terror network and are considered further signs of an end in sight. The reality is slightly more cautionary.

The coming decade requires our continued engagement around the globe, as an operational force in support of our National Security Strategy. As a transformed Army Reserve, we must remain prepared to meet whatever challenges the future holds. Any downtick in operations must be leveraged as an investment of time, energy and resources into programs designed to sustain the strides the force has made over the past nine years.

Addressing the stress and strain of multiple deployments on both Soldiers and Families requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the duality of Reserve Soldiers. Unlike the Active Component, with installation support at hand and no employer to give temporary notice to, Reserve Soldiers must at all times be prepared to leave their homes, Families, civilian careers, and sometimes units of assignmentdeploying as augmentées in order to meet operational needs. And they have done so in unprecedented numbers- a seamless and integral part of the force.

Maintaining our achievements requires providing our Soldiers and Civilians, as well as their Families, the best possible care, support and services by establishing a strategy that synchronizes and integrates programs and processes. There are many programs available to build the spectrum of wellness- physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual- to support achieving the strategic outcomes of readiness, recruitment and retention.

A few of the best:

COMPREHENSIVE SOLDIER FITNESS

The comprehensive approach puts mental fitness on the same level as physical fitness. CSF is a structured, long term assessment and development program to build the resilience and enhance the performance of every Soldier, Family member and DA civilian. Learn more at csf.army.mil.

STRONG BONDS

The Army Reserve holds Strong Bonds retreats for single Soldiers, couples and Families to help build resilience and maintain a healthy and vibrant force. Learn more at www.strongbonds.org.

ASIST

Designed for Health Promotion-Risk reduction, the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training program is the most widely used, acclaimed and researched suicide intervention skills training for Soldiers. Trained first line supervisors, Army Reserve leadership, civilians and suicide prevention programs managers train and enable Soldiers to identify and assist at-risk colleagues. Learn more at www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide.

THE YELLOW RIBBON REINTEGRATION PROGRAM

Their stated mission is to Support Army Reserve Families and Soldiers with sufficient information, resources and services, referrals and proactive outreach opportunities throughout the deployment cycle. Learn more at www.yellowribbon.mil.

EMPLOYER PARTNERSHIP

Soldiers can match their acquired skill-sets to potential employment opportunities, creating a symbiotic relationship between their civilian and Reserve careers. Learn more at www. employerpartnership.org.

As always, I turn to my noncommissioned officers to facilitate down to the unit and squad level, so each and every Soldier is familiar with the assistance available to them. …