Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Member Spotlight: Carol Potter

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Member Spotlight: Carol Potter

Article excerpt

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Resilience is especially important for the military in helping to overcome traumatic experiences encountered during deployments, to help family members cope with those deployments, to reduce stress and to boost energy levels.

Carol Potter, who recently retired from the Department of Defense (DoD) after more than 33 years, was the assistant director of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) policy within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. She recognized that too many service members were returning from the adrenaline high experienced during deployment and engaging in harmful activities to get that same adrenaline rush. She also recognized that recreation --particularly high-adventure recreation--when offered in a supervised and safe environment, serves as a healthy alternative to destructive behavior.

Parks & Recreation magazine recently caught up with Potter to learn more about her work developing policy for MWR and helping to build resilience for service members. Potter, who is one of the five judges for the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Parks and Recreation, became the head judge for that award after this year's NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

Parks & Recreation: What was your role at the Department of Defense?

Carol Potter: I developed policy for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program and worked with the services to develop recreation programs that would enhance not only the service members' experiences, but also build physical and mental health. I conceptualized the "return and recreate" initiative to promote recreation for returning deployed service member and their families to reduce stress, promote reintegration and build resilience. I also challenged military recreation programs to meet the "return and recreate" needs of our service members, and all four military services developed a program to fulfill this initiative.

P&R: What led to you recognizing the need for these types of recreation programs for service members?

Potter: Well, going further than that, I have a deep passion for recreation. I learned that when we were in Iraq and Afghanistan, our service members were returning and killing themselves in greater numbers once they returned home than those soldiers we had lost in the war. …

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