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NEWS | May 25, 2021

S1 integrates new Soldiers into a stressful situation

By Staff Sgt. Kevin Spence First Army Division East

Nearly eight months after 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade held its first foundational day event there are no signs that their commitment to being a People-First organization will waver.

Foundational days, centered around personal, social, and cultural issues, are designed for units to get down to business each month by setting aside routine battle rhythm events. Units often include some sort of team building event to help provide a safe and relaxing environment for Soldiers to share stories, understand one other, and work through those often difficult issues facing our culture and our Army.

With so many new Soldiers cycling in and out of the brigade during permanent change, of station or PCS season, leaders say it can sometimes be challenging for to get new Soldiers invested in this monthly event.

Maj. Jerry Garner, the 4th Cav. MFTB personnel section officer in charge, sees it as an opportunity to take it back to the basics.

"I wanted to take it back to the first foundational day," Garner said of the event he and his section planned together. "We shared a bit about who we are, our background, and the idea behind that is that for the ones that were not here, it is their introduction to it and gives them a chance to learn more about the team they'll be working with."

"The focus behind today's foundational day is stress relief and different ways to handle stress properly. I enjoy starting these days with something fun, that can connect to the topic, so we went to the local rage room, picked up the baseball bat or lead pipe, smashed some picture frames, and broke some bottles," he said.

For Garner, foundation days are all about group building, and helping to squash initial communication jitters with really good ice-breakers.

"Any time you get together with group activities and group dynamics those ice-breakers are really what lead you into positive constructive discussions," added Garner.

Soldiers agreed.

"In this type of setting, having it informal works better because it allows the leaders to speak about their personal experiences, which can be much more beneficial," said Staff Sgt. Michael Koonce, the personnel section non-commissioned officer in charge at 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command. "The way the conversation was facilitated and the method of delivery created an environment that was conducive to healthy discussions."

Healthy communication is important because the mission often depends on it. After a year conducting most communication online from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Soldiers said the event was a step toward getting back to normal.

“It was fun and effective because it lets you know that your team cares," said Staff Sgt. Juleika Medina, human resources noncommissioned officer, 4th Cav. MFTB. "I haven't been in a unit that has "foundational days" or something similar, and when you go to a unit that emphasizes people first, it's refreshing.”

While the topic of stress is wide-ranging, Medina realized dealing with stress depends on the individual and everyone deals with stress differently.

“I recognize when I'm stressed, usually, I'm in a negative mood and don't want to talk to people," she said. "That's when I realize that somethings going on and I recognize it and try to do something about it because it's not me."

She said recognizing it is the first step but underscores it by letting Soldiers know that there is more to it.

“Recognize it, deal with it, talk about it," she said. "Find out what works best for you and maybe talk to someone that can help you unpack those feelings you may be dealing with.”