Festival activities promote resilience

“We have to start by acknowledging that life is hard, and it is best to build our resiliency so we can get through the hard times to the better times,” Chaplain Lt. Col. Jeffrey Dillard said at the start of the first ever Resiliency Fest Sept. 21 at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.

Soldiers visited various booths where they took their quarterly Master Resiliency Training and participated in physical challenges and activities, such as yoga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wall climbing. Other resiliency activities included stress reduction, a gratitude wall, active constructive communication, creative art table and spiritual resiliency.

Typical MRT consists of classroom-based lessons, but event organizer Ainhoa Revuelta said Soldiers who attended the festival expressed their preference for the interactive training they received that day. Units took advantage of this opportunity and more than 200 Soldiers received credit for MRT mandatory training modules.

“We hope that the attendees learned several new skills to increase their daily resiliency,” Revuelta said.

Rob Austin with the Wiesbaden Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club, who is also a staff sergeant with the 522 Military Intelligence Batallion, gave demonstrations of the martial art with the aim of helping people learn the skills needed to rebound from a struggle—literally and figuratively.

“We’re linking a martial art—a physical activity—to something that you can use everyday, much like a lot of the resiliency tools that the Soldiers and civilians get to use. So, when we teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we put people in bad situations and they have to learn how to fight their way out of it,” he said. “Once you have the tool sets to get out of those positions, it’s kind of the same thing as getting these MRT tools.”

At the gratitude wall, participants learned about the value of gratitude, wrote down things they are grateful for and got advice on how to practice that skill going forward, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeannette Hilliard with the 7th Weather Squadron, who helped coordinate the activity.

The event was fun for the whole Family, with face painting, firefighters, a dunk tank and a sensory room to entertain the little ones and food and snacks as well.

The main focus of the event was to provide resiliency building activities to all members of the community, especially Family members, Revuelta said.

“Soldiers and Families face multiple transitions during their service: PCSs, deployments, multiple moves, job changes, new schools…” she said. “Resilience can be that factor that makes all the difference between being overwhelmed by stress or thriving in a changing environment, making the most out of military life.”