The NY Times reported that the Army has plans for a new program that will require all 1.1 million of its enlisted soldiers to take “emotional resiliency” training. The new program is the first of its kind and is intended to head off problems Veterans have with PTSD, depression, and suicide. Its estimated that around 1/5th of soldiers returning from current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from said problems. The program will be phased into the basic training program, strangely enough its modeled after a program for middle school aged students. The program aims to retrain the way Vets think so as to avoid flawed thinking that often assumes the worse case scenario leading to anxiety and/or frustration.
The challenge for the Army will be that this is not known to be a population that would typically consider such lessons to be consistent with their manly self image. On the other hand, with all of our foreign entanglements such a program is desperately needed based on the number of soldiers coming back with combat related stress. While the program has been effective in teenagers whether it will work in this context is largely unknown even though top psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed the program. Ultimately, the program will be evaluated and it will be determined whether resiliency and mental toughness can be acquired through such training. The primary theory is that mental stress can be managed if you play to your psychological strengths, and it will give people the tools to recognize when they are experiencing stress such as when they see a fellow soldier get killed in battle. As the program is implemented it will be evaluated through lengthy and thorough questionnaires.