Military News

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Service members 'reset' during 3-day retreat

by Staff Sgt. Chuck Broadway
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/10/2015 - FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- The reset button: a spring-loaded, finger-width mechanism on a computer or game console which forces all current activity to cease. Pushing reset instructs a system to shut down, clear temporary memory and restore the device to a healthy, initialized state.

Recently, more than 70 service members and their families from military installations across the Carolinas pushed the reset button Nov. 2-4, to shut down, clear their minds and restore a healthy, resilient lifestyle during the USO of North Carolina Warrior Reset at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The retreat featured briefings and discussions on several topics affecting today's troops and their families. Subjects such as finance, nutrition and health as well as leadership, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide awareness were briefed by subject matter experts and fellow service members who encouraged open dialogue between Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and family members on past experiences and methods to deal with different stressors.

"This course was very effective and stayed true to the concept 'Warrior Reset'," said Tech. Sgt. Dellary Madden, 4th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of installation personnel readiness. "This was definitely a first-class course that provided a well-rounded balance to the word resiliency. I loved how the agencies that supported the training were not military, but in 'support of'. I really felt like (it) was about finding alternative ways to deal with life rather than another training built to check the box or a refresher on basic resiliency."

Army Sgt. Heather Adamson, a 3rd Special Forces Group human intelligence collector stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and said she found great value in the information and activities of the entire event.

"The program has definitely helped me with stress management," she said. "As a soldier with PTSD, I thought the program was outstanding. It's a safe and relaxing environment that teaches different ways to cope with stress."

Along with serious discussions, the retreat mixed in two physical training workouts, a yoga class and calisthenics session, as well as classes on horticulture, music-making and a magician who entertained attendees with an array of card tricks.

"I was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't your typical military training and was actually a hands-on, stress-relieving and fun course," Adamson said. "The best takeaway from this was the chance to relax here with like-minded individuals who were here to help us. We were able to take that and relax for a few days away from the unit and stress of daily life."

The hands-on aspects of the class drew smiles and laughter to all in attendance, including spouses and children, who spent their days with childcare providers so parents could fully participate in every aspect of the retreat.

Army Staff Sgt. Ron Laugand, a 161st Infantry Regiment drill sergeant from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, attended the retreat with his wife Janet and their two children. Ron stated that it's easy to take your eyes off something and lose focus on the big picture, even with the best of intentions. At the conclusion of the event, both he and Janet said this reset was a great opportunity to refocus and spend time with their kids, growing their relationship.

"It was an uplifting and enjoyable experience to be a part of as (the USO) delivered open arms from the beginning," Janet said. "I learned to be more open-minded and when my family shows they want attention, I won't hesitate to give it to them. I embrace that I'm not alone with what I encounter (as a military spouse). The info put out here allowed people to drop their guard and make a connection, which was my favorite part. We've been to several classes and this one was really positive and exceeded expectations."

"A lot of times people are hesitant to reach out," Ron said. "There's a lot of things available if you branch out and I'm thankful for the USO of North Carolina for this program."

The Warrior Reset retreat, along with complimentary programs such as Spouse Reset and Family Reset, are each held four times a year in various locations close to major military installations. Kelli Davis, USO of NC troop and programs coordinator, is the brain-child behind these events and said the goal was to eventually reach every troop in both North and South Carolina.

"Leadership at different installations requested our help to address the resilience needs of our troops," Davis said. "We wanted to go above and beyond the airport lounges and homecomings that we're known for and make sure we're giving as many tools as we possibly can."

According to Davis different leaders are looking to invest in their troops by sending them to Warrior Reset. Service members with at least a year of service time left and are leaders, or soon to be leaders, within their unit are usually chosen to attend. The November reset had ranks from E-3 to O-5 in attendance. This, along with incorporating integration from different services, helped attendees see a different perspective and provide a stronger support system to each other.

"I love to see the camaraderie," Davis added. "Sometimes troops get stuck in the shell of their installations. Here, we see the struggles are across the branches. The peer support mechanism built into this program is one of the greatest successes we have."

Davis said it's most important for the military to know there are people outside the installation who are there for them. By bringing in top-notch instructors who are invested in the well-being of the military and their families, the overall resilience of the force remains strong.

"This is a valuable toolset I wouldn't have known about and I feel the word should get out," said Adamson. "Anybody needing PTSD or stress management techniques should come through here. The coping for anxiety, stress, traumatic brain injury ... I would send every Soldier in my unit to this program."

As 2016 fast approaches, the USO of NC is gearing up for another round of Warrior, Family and Spouse Reset retreats. Any service member or family members interested in attending one of the programs can contact Kelli Davis at 919-840-3000, or visit www.uso-nc.org.

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