'Devil' brigade soldier builds resiliency in face of adversity
CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea - Military service can place extreme stresses on a Soldier, both physically and mentally. Soldiers must be prepared to battle multiple personal challenges while operating in some of the most extreme conditions far away from home.
Physically, Soldiers prepare by conducting physical training as a part of their daily work schedule as well as participating in regularly occurring job specific training to ensure they remain at the peak of their profession. However, preparing for the mental stresses that come with military service can be just as important as how a Soldier prepares their body.
For one 1st Infantry Division Soldier, resiliency has been the key to bouncing back from adversity and remaining mentally strong following a bout with depression.
In 2015, Spc. Justin Dillon, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist with the 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., experienced personal relationship issues that caused his world to collapse around him. While many people may experience a gradual downward slope into depression, Dillon's experience happened suddenly and without warning.
"I never had issues with depression," Dillon said. "I found out a bunch of negative information all at once and I started drinking that night and it happened just like that."
"I never in a million years thought it would happen to me," he added.
For Dillon, building resiliency came by way of simply sharing with others the issues he was facing in his life, something he would have never thought to do before.
"If someone would have told me the same stuff I'm saying right now a year ago, I probably would have just brushed it off and ignored it," Dillon said about opening up emotionally to others. "But now I understand, because of everything I went through, how important it really is."
Dillon credits his chain of command for being there for him when he needed it the most and making sure he had the support he needed to bounce back.
One way Dillon learned how to cope with life's challenges came in the way of competing in Army combatives, something he recently began training to do with the help of his company first sergeant.
"It was just something I decided I wanted to do when we got out (to Korea)," the Martinsburg, West Virginia native said. "It definitely helps. I know we're all a part of a team of Soldiers, but with combatives, it's narrowed down a little more."
For Dillon and other Soldiers like him, learning resiliency skills is a way to deal with the many issues common among those in the military service.
"It's important for us to be aware that we need to be more resilient," he said. "We deal with a lot of things that those in the civilian world don't have to, like leaving for extended periods of time."
Resiliency is a top priority for the Army. The Army's Ready and Resilient campaign aims to provide leaders with the ability to achieve and sustain personal readiness by optimizing human performance in environments of uncertainty and persistent danger.
"Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from some type of adversity in your life," said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Kistler, the 1st ABCT human resources noncommissioned officer in charge and a master resiliency trainer. "When something out of the ordinary comes your way, how will you deal with it? Will you let it take you down or will you face it head on and come out better for it?"
According to Kistler, leaders have a responsibility to know what is going on in their Soldiers lives so they can step in and help when their Soldiers are facing hardship.
"It's important to know your Soldiers very well," Kistler said. "Leaders need to understand that Soldiers will go through different stages of problems in their lives so you have to ask questions and find out how the Soldier is dealing with it."
Both Dillon and Kistler agree that resiliency isn't something Soldiers should only practice when things get tough. Resiliency is a skill that can help with everyday life, both inside and outside the military.
"Whether you're having ups or downs, you should always practice resiliency," Dillon said. "If you're resilient, you're going to be able to tackle more obstacles. Being resilient can only be a positive thing."