Themes from Individual Speakers on Resilience Programs
The issue of resilience under stressful conditions is particularly relevant for those serving in the military. Lt. Col. Daniel Johnston stated that the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program was born in response to the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and an increase in suicides among army personnel. The program also offers the possibility of improved performance. Johnston indicated that these increases have been attributed to dramatic changes in the operational tempo of the military in a post-9/11 world. Prior to 9/11 a member of the armed services could anticipate being deployed once or twice during a career. Other stressors such as moves to new duty stations were fairly predictable. Since 2001, the cycle has become condensed with multiple deployments and more frequent changes in duty stations. Johnston noted that it is important to know that suicide victims are equally divided among those who have been in combat and those who have not.
While in theater, soldiers are often exposed to traumatic experiences. As a result, the amount of psychological and physical problems within the military population has increased. Johnston cited a study on the prevalence of PTSD, depression, alcohol use, and drug use among veterans that was carried out by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 2003 to 2006. The study found that the combined rate of mental health disorders among veterans from Afghanistan was about 6 percent. After the conflict in Iraq started, this rate rose to 37 percent (Seal et al., 2009).
The CSF has defined itself as “a structured, long-term assessment and development program to build the resilience and enhance the