WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Missouri --
Master Resiliency Trainers at Whiteman Air Force Base conducted the first ever virtual Resiliency Trainers Assistant course for roughly 100 Air Force recruiters around the nation from July 7 – 9.
Master Resiliency Trainers are specialized instructors who teach important lessons and skills for coping with stress, monitoring mental health, and managing personal workloads to make Airmen more resilient.
“Resiliency isn’t just a one-off skill, it’s a continuous learning process. Life hits us unexpectedly, and there’s so much that we have to be able to overcome,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Desilus, 509th Bomb Wing MRT. “If we don’t have the tools we teach in resiliency training to combat this adversity, we won’t be able to overcome obstacles as easily, and we’re more likely to fall to a lower quality of life.”
In an effort to continue the resiliency training program during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Wark, 349th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, reached out to MRT’s at Whiteman Air Force Base to stand up the virtual RTA training program for Air Force recruiters.
“When this started out, we were supposed to go TDY to teach these lessons, but then the coronavirus pandemic happened, so we figured out a way to incorporate the courses into an online format,” Wark said. “We have a team of Master Resiliency trainers that are getting RTA lessons out to everyone that’s in recruiting essentially from scratch.”
According to Desilus, the training was conducted via video chat, and consisted of 24 training hours over the course of three days. The training curriculum consisted of identifying personal beliefs and understanding oneself, realizing stressors within one’s own life, and learning the skills to combat those personalized stressors and how to help others identify their own stressors.
During the training, the recruiters were also given instruction on how to teach resiliency, so they can take the skills they learn back to their units when they have completed their tours as recruiters.
While this training helps keep the recruiters aware of their stress levels, it can also help the applicants they work with as well.
“A lot of times, applicants look at the recruiter as their first Air Force contact and say ‘that’s where I want to be’,” Wark said. “We have to be resilient with applicants to not only help them get through the recruiting process, but also teach them to trust the process and use those skills as they go through the Military Entrance Process Station and eventually Basic Military Training.”
According to Desilus, these skills can also be applied to a variety of major commands, career fields, and scenarios such as deployments and temporary duties. The new virtual capabilities originally utilized due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be used for a wide array of circumstances.
“While inter-personal and face-to-face communication is ideal for resiliency training, this format is great for hitting a large group of people,” Desilus said. “This format could allow us to reach people at great distances, whether they’re deployed or overseas where they may really need these skill sets.”
While this training program teaches Air Force recruiters how to manage stress, teach resiliency, and help others cope during high stress scenarios, it is also important for everyone to learn resiliency.
“We are in charge of our own health, if we realize we need help, we need to ask for it,” Desilus said. “If we see an opportunity to improve, we need to act on it. Growth only stops when you stop.”