Program for soldiers coping with stress

November 9, 2009 3:17:53 PM PST
The U.S. Army officially kicked off a new training program Monday in Philadelphia. It's a ten day course designed to help soldiers cope with stress. Action News got an inside look at how it can help.

"It's a roller coaster, one minute you can be laughing, the next minute you can be in a fire fight."

Army Staff Sergeant David Breeden has been deployed twice to Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he says he's had a few nightmares it hasn't affected his work or personal life because he's found ways to handle the stress.

And with the help of a new program launched in Philadelphia, the Army hopes to give all their soldiers tools to better develop strong minds. It's something former Persian Gulf War POW Rhonda Cornum knows is vital.

"The potential negative outcomes of not being resilient are huge."

"Primarily what's done in this training is we teach people to recognize in themselves those good thinking skills and the bad ones and how to overcome the bad ones."

They'll do that through lectures, role playing and talking about personal experiences. Officials say this type of training is needed now more than ever.

"Because of this long war that we're involved in the conflict is continuous and the stress is continuous," said Lt. General Mark Hertling.

Last week's shooting at Fort Hood shines the spotlight on military stress but officials at the program say this training is not designed to screen for suicidal or homicidal thoughts. It's for the general population to have them work on their own psyche, emotionally, socially and spiritually and with their family. And build off of that to be able to cope with whatever may come their way.

"You plan for the worst, you hope for the best and you take it one step at a time," said Army Staff Sergeant Breeden

Obviously it's not just the soldier who is under stress but also the family. So the Army hopes to expand this program to family members.

Nearly 200 soldiers will be trained in this first session but the plan is to have all soldiers trained.

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