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NEWS | July 10, 2023

Makings of resilience: Using your character strengths

By Mavia Hanson

When people think of the word “resilience” and the Army, more often than not they imagine a Soldier being resilient during war time or in the field. Rarely do people consider the resilience that’s needed when Soldiers are home in their day-to-day life. Often, factors in everyday life, such as health related issues, economic or psychological hardship, and social issues, can present overwhelming and unforeseen challenges. During those difficult times, it can be easy to focus on individual shortcomings or weaknesses, but increasing self-awareness and discovering your best qualities are the keys to overcoming those challenges.

Capt. Danielle E. Rant, Suicide Prevention Program analyst from Fort Liberty's (formerly Fort Bragg) U.S. Army Reserve Command, believes it takes grit to overcome. “I believe resilient Soldiers possess one very important trait: grit. Grit involves sticking with things over the very long term until you master them. Developing grit is not simply pushing through pain to reach the summit. It’s the art of learning to walk the tightrope between confidence, humility and adaptability,” says Rant.

That grit can be unlocked when you identify and understand your character strengths. Character strengths are a combination of the personal qualities that make you who you are—your uniqueness that helps you achieve goals, improve relationships and overcome challenges.

You can practice developing your character strengths in three simple steps.

Raise your awareness: An effective way to unlock awareness of your character strengths is to take the VIA survey, a free online tool to help people uncover their strongest qualities.

Explore what your character strengths are: Six common character strengths are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Ask yourself:

•        How can I use my top character strengths?

•        Do these strengths help me accomplish my goals?

•        How can I leverage these strengths to build personal and professional relationships?

Create an action plan: Develop the steps to improve the strengths that will help you get to the next level of your goals and bring you greater happiness.

Once you are able to recognize your best qualities, you can leverage and apply them to achieve personal and professional success. This is especially crucial in the midst of a crisis when you need purpose and direction most. “The uniform is not made of Teflon. Soldiers have real issues and need support systems to help them through adversity,” says Kimberly Franco, USARC, G1, Suicide Prevention Program manager, Army veteran and founder of One Common Bond, a grief and loss support organization. When faced with adversity, understanding what parts of your personality can help power you through a crisis can be a defining factor in your journey to purpose. Franco tapped into that purpose and direction after the sudden loss of her brother to suicide in her 22nd year of service. Finding herself in a position to work in suicide prevention full time, she retired early to pursue the work. The U.S. Army Reserve R2 Center offers many classes to build resiliency. The ACE-Suicide Intervention (ACE-SI) training performance skills training, and Master Resilience Training are the main classes, but R2 Centers offer many more and can tailor classes to assist commanders who may be experiencing challenges within their formations.

“Our Soldiers reside in cities nationwide, even worldwide, and rely on local support. The active-duty model is based on the connections among the Soldier, leader and Family (aka the Golden Triangle). For the U.S. Army Reserve, we added one more element, the employer, making the Golden Diamond. Soldiers need support in every aspect of their lives, whether at home, at work or on the job,” says Franco. Resilient Soldiers acknowledge that they have limited abilities, but they leverage their character strengths and their support network to address any weaknesses they may have. These strengths can help them succeed in both the Golden Triangle and the Golden Diamond model. “Building resilience is best when you connect with like-minded individuals because connection is the key to resilience. I often use the term We > Me. An individual can achieve a lot, but imagine how much more we can accomplish if we connect with others,” says Franco.

Learning character strengths is a way anyone can build and sustain readiness and overcome crises in life. To request one-on-one training with an MRT-PE to learn how to leverage your character strengths to build readiness and resilience visit https://www. R2/I-Want-to-Schedule-Training.html.

If you or a loved one is in crisis, remember you are not alone. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is here. Call 988 and press 1, or text 838255 for help.