The members of our Armed Forces and their families often experience highly stressful situations. They may face several deployments, frequent moves, long training missions, financial distress or a lack of support and resources where they are located. While service members are often naturally resilient and willingly take on challenges not usually experienced by civilians, the reality of having to regularly adjust to new communities, dangerous jobs and reintegration with loved ones means increased stress and potential mental and emotional challenges.
During Mental Health Month, we want to tell everyone about the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) free Resiliency Workshops that aim to help improve coping abilities, communication skills and personal wellness strategies.
Through education and connection, each confidential workshop emphasizes individual growth and small-group discussion by teaching easy-to-use skills that encourage successful engagement with one’s colleagues, community and loved ones.
Each Resiliency program is available to all branches of the Armed Forces, including members of the Reserves and National Guard as well as active-duty service members, veterans and their families.
There are three resiliency programs to choose from: Reconnection Workshops – which are available to both adults and children – Mind-Body Workshops and Coping with Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families.
Reconnection Workshop Modules for Adults:
1. Communicating Clearly helps participants understand and improve their communication style to help them successfully engage with colleagues and loved ones.
2. Exploring Stress and Trauma teaches service members and their loved ones to recognize and manage stress and other military-related challenges, including trauma.
3. Identifying Depression helps participants recognize behaviors, thoughts and feelings that may be signs of depression, find ways to address them and know when to seek additional help.
4. Relating to Children helps participants learn how children react to stress and trauma by developmental level and teaches effective ways to help them through difficult times.
5. Working through Anger teaches participants to recognize and understand sources and expressions of anger in response to stressful situations and offers options for how to respond when faced with emotionally intense situations and events.
Reconnection Workshop Modules for Children and Teens:
1. Roger That! Communication Counts
2. Operation 10-4 Confident Coping
1. Introduction to Mind-Body Skills teaches participants to recognize and manage stress through a personal wellness plan that includes breathing techniques, mindfulness, stretching and movement, biofeedback, body training and/or biofeedback.
2. Using Mind-Body Skills teaches participants to recognize and manage stress through a personal wellness plan that includes drawing, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, mirroring and/or self-guided imagery.
Coping with Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families:
This course utilizes PowerPoint, roleplays and small-group discussions to prepare military families for helping both themselves and those in their community to effectively cope with the challenges related to the deployment cycle. There are two courses available, one for teaching adults how to use Psychological First Aid (PFA) tools with other adults and another for teaching adults how to use PFA tools with children.
Visit here to find out more about our Resiliency program. To learn more about other Red Cross SAF programs to support members of the military and our veterans, contact your local Red Cross chapter.