By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
Lt. Col. Cheryl Aubas, who works at Human Resources Command in her branch of Medical Services, recently talked with the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness manager at Fort Knox, Moon Mullins, to tell him how much the CSF2 training had helped her even though she went through the program several years ago.
When she was learning the program along with the Soldiers in her command, she had no clue how important it would become to her family.
“Sometimes as senior leaders we think our rank makes us immune to life,” she said, but she learned from firsthand experience how deceptive that thinking is.
As a troop commander at Eisenhower Medical Center on Fort Gordon, Ga., she was listening to the instructor who was training her Soldiers on the Army’s CSF2 program, which helps Soldiers and Family members learn specific techniques and traits that build resilience.
“As I was listening, it started sinking in but I had no idea that I might need to use it,” she said. “Not long after, my world was rocked, compounded by many crises at once.”
Aubas endured the most difficult circumstances she could have imagined. She was dealing with an impending divorce, her ex-husband was charged and convicted with a felony, a work-related complaint had been filed against her, her children were struggling with the emotional problems of the divorce and she was facing a permanent change of station move all at once.
In the midst of the chaos in her personal life, Aubas was struggling to execute the functions of her Army career and she received the first mediocre evaluation of her entire career. She was still trying to make things right for her children while dealing with her guilt about the divorce and its impact on them. She explained her children missed their father while blaming her for the divorce, even though she wanted to avoid explaining the behavior (especially to her youngest child) that sent him to jail.
Her world—and her children’s—had been turned upside down. Her circumstances were so stressful, she questioned everything she thought she knew.
“I found myself asking, ‘Is the sky really blue?’ ‘Is the grass really green?’”
Although she was barely hanging on to her sanity, Aubas said she developed a routine that helped.
“At the end of the day, I had to close the door to my room and hunt for the good stuff,” she said. “There were days when I really had to hunt to find three good things—life was so hard, there were many days I didn’t want to get out of bed.”
Eventually she realized she wasn’t going to be able to handle it all on her own, although that was the course she initially had chosen. She explained that the job situation might have been partially her own fault because she closed herself off and tried to hide her pain. She finally went to counseling to find some answers for herself and her children.
“Many of us have been fearful of counseling; I’m not sure why,” she said. “We wouldn’t avoid going to the doctor for a broken arm, why do we avoid emotional healing? A counselor is just a doctor for emotional wounds. Just like a broken arm might heal on its own, emotional hurts might heal on their own, but they would take much longer.”
Her oldest child began learning some CSF2 principles as a student at Fort Knox High School after the family moved to Kentucky; the child asked mom some questions about it. Aubas recognized the training and encouraged her young adult to latch onto it; now she can see that it’s beginning to click. They have some common terminology and Aubas sees the value in it for herself and her children.
“It’s so powerful, especially for young people,” she said. “When they reach a crisis—and they will have crises because everyone does—they will have these life lessons in their pockets to pull out and use. I think this resilience training is phenomenal. The Army’s training is often death by Powerpoint, but they got this right. It teaches us to bounce back.”
She continues to talk things over with her oldest, now a teenager, and often employs CSF2 principles. She wants the teen to learn to make decisions based on all the facts, asking questions from all angles.
“I want (the teen) to bring everybody to the committee meeting (when contemplating a decision)—brain, heart, gut,” Aubas said. “If any single one of those committee members doesn’t feel right, that should be a warning.”
Now that the challenges have been overcome and life somewhat normalized, Aubas can look back and admit that she was so distraught that suicide had flitted through her mind briefly. But she outlines three reasons that kept her from such a drastic measure.
“First was my children; I needed to live for them. If anything happened to me, they wouldn’t have anyone,” she said. “Secondly was my faith in God and standing on my faith. Third was this resilience training I got from CSF2; I learned to hunt for the good stuff, knowing that every morning was a new day and another chance to make things better.”
While the Aubas family is now chronologically removed from those tragic circumstances, she said the counseling that she and the children have received has worked.
“We have gone from barely surviving to now being healthy and whole,” she said. “I want to thank the Army for that resilience training. They got this right!”
Editor’s Note: Some changes have been made to names and circumstances to protect the family’s privacy.
For more information check out the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness website at http://csf2.army.mil/