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Strengthening Todays Soldiers through Positive Psychology and Resiliency Factors Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2020

Abstract

The media has been constantly focusing on the cognitive impairments as well as on the mental health conditions which affect a large number of military officers participating in wars. Positive psychology and resilience play a very major role in assisting soldiers as well as their families from war to cope up with their situation.

Positive psychology serves to improve the mental state of the soldiers as well as their families after they have gone through stress. Resilience is applicable in enabling soldiers to recover from the stress they go through during and after the war. Programs have been set up in this regard, in order to assist soldiers.

These two concepts are very much similar. There is need to put in place more programs that promote these in order to continue strengthening the soldiers as more wars are expected in the future.

Introduction

The media has been increasingly focusing on the cognitive impairments as well as on the mental health conditions which affect a large number of military officers participating in wars. A larger number of soldiers do not come back home from wars having the “invisible wounds” (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008,p.17).

But on the other hand, just about fifty percent of the soldiers that come back with symptoms in line with “a diagnosis of posttraumatic disorder see a health care professionals for help” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.1).

In responding to this, President George Bush, the DoD, the Congress and the “Department of Veterans Affairs” engaged in convening various task forces, reviews as well as commissions in order to highlight the main problems and their potential solutions.

Following these efforts, attention has been increasingly put on the significance of promoting positive psychology and psychological resilience and setting up programs that are aimed at supporting the military to raise the level of resilience “in light of ongoing deployments” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.1).

Positive psychology and resilience are regarded as significant parts of duty fitness and this is for the reason that operational pace linked to the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts has been demanding for the United States soldiers together with their families.

The United States service members who go to work for a longer time on a regular basis encounter dangers linked to war and this may pose challenges to the coping resources of the individual or their families. As on one hand a larger number of the soldiers are found to attain success in coping under these harsh conditions, on the other hand, a large number of them as well go through hardships in dealing with stress in some instances.

However, there exist strategies as well as programs that are aimed at promoting and supporting resilience to the stress that is linked to deployment.

It is pointed out that the significant difference between “approaches to promote resilience, as compared with traditional medical interventions, is the emphasis on prevention as opposed to treatment” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.1). This paper is going to consider how to strengthen todays Soldiers through positive psychology and resiliency factors.

Resilience Definition

This term was initially taken from the field of engineering. However, in psychology, resilience can be defined as; “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.2). The psychological resilience concept has roots in various fields.

It mostly came up in the course of the 1970s from childhood psychopathology as well as developmental psychology as a product of research indicating that, in spite of being brought up in abject poverty, among the children, there were those that have amazingly “normal developmental trajectories” (Bonanno & Mancini, 2008, p.369).

The literature presented about trauma embraced psychological resilience as being a construct as well, putting focus on the differences that exist between resilience among adults and in children and also between the acute and chronic stressors (Bonanno, 2004, p.21).

The literature concerning community resilience gives a suggestion that psychological resilience can be set up “in the wake of school and workplace violence by having credible authorities explain what happened and discuss common reaction crisis” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.2).

Positive Psychology Defined

This is defined as a psychology branch which puts focus on “improving mental functioning of human beings above that of normal mental health” (Charlene, 2013, p.1). The researchers in this field engage in studying the factors that make people to be happy and how a person can engage in living a life that is satisfying and enjoyable.

The purpose of the field of positive psychology is to enable understanding and nurturing of factors which make it possible for people and communities to prosper and become accustomed to what is excellent “in the scientific method to the unique problems that human behavior presents” (Charlene, 2013, p.1).

Positive Psychology and resilience

The “positive psychology movement” as well emphasized more on the psychological resilience, with a change in focus to what maintains individuals in good psychological health from what keeps them psychologically ill. The focus of positive psychology is on three main qualities and these include; “Positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions”(Meredith et al., 2011, p.3).

The positive emotions are defined to encompass satisfaction about the past, happiness at the present time, and great expectations for the life to come (Fredrickson et al., 2003). This is where optimism comes in and involves individuals hunting for what is good and identify what is controllable and remain realistic. The individuals need also to maintain hope for the future.

In order to realize this, one has to have self-confidence and confidence in the team. The personal characteristics or traits involve virtues as well as strengths encompassing the ability to work and love, bravery, “compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.3). In essence, this involves having self-awareness.

The notion of the “positive institutions” summarizes the study about those strengths that promote improved communities like “justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethics, leadership, teamwork, purpose and tolerance” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.3).

This calls for having mental agility. One has to have the ability to identify and understand problems by thinking accurately and flexibly and trying new strategies to solve problems.

The psychological resilience actually rises above “individual personality traits” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.3). This is a process which involves having contact between a person, his previous experiences, and the present day life context.

Some researchers point out that there still exist some gaps regarding various resilience conceptualizations as being a dynamic process against personal trait (Luthar& Cicchetti, 2000). It was suggested that the word “resilience” need to be changed in order for it to give description to the adjustment process after going through considerable adversity (Meredith et al., 2011).

These researchers made this suggestion on the basis of the idea that labeling a person as not having or having a “personality trait of resilience” bears the danger that some individuals will have a feeling that they do not have enough resources to use in coping (Meredith et al., 2011).

Therefore, on the basis of this literature, competence can be considered as resilience in spite of adversity, while on the other hand, resiliency is regarded as being a trait.

Applying Positive Psychology and resilience to the Military

Both positive psychology and resilience are very significant for the military members in line with keeping these members fit for their work and to offering protection against their health and the health of their families.

Using a resilience approach is found to be mainly significant for the military culture and this is for the reason that it can deal with the pervasive issues regarding the stigma of requiring assistance for either the behavioral or psychological problems.

In spite of the changes that were recently made on the policy of the Department of Defense, some soldiers have not yet started enjoying full confidentiality in looking for assistance for the behavioral as well as emotional problems they have.

On the other hand, leadership can serve a crucial role in the creation of a command condition where it is fine to obtain assistance for the concerns related to psychological health. Therefore, the present day policy can still serve to boost cultural beliefs as well as attitudes which hinder acknowledgement of problems and searching for mental health attention(Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008).

As on one hand these beliefs as well as attitudes create self-reliance, self-importance and toughness, on the other hand, they can as well thwart the work of giving encouragement to soldiers to look for assistance following their concerns related to psychological health.

In this regard, focusing on strengths like fighting stress, fitness and flourishing, has big potential for giving assistance to the soldiers with no humiliation which is normally linked to looking for assistance.

In addition, the prevention approaches which focus on strengths rather than on weaknesses are intrinsically less humiliating as compared to the traditional interventions that are treatment-oriented. Therefore, the focus is put on prevention in order to bring down the level of the need for having intervention.

Another powerful value within the military culture is found to be unit cohesion that assists in bringing improvement in morale and nurturing resilience.

Soldiers develop connection through having strong relationships and intimate bonds among themselves and through this; they are able to offer strength as well as motivation “to get each other through intensive training regimens” (Helmus & Glenn, 2005, p.23).

The concept of resilience has been the basis of the “DCoE Resilience Program” set up in the year 2007 with an intention of shifting the culture in the military “away from an illness-focused medical model of care to a model that focuses on psychological health” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.6).

This model that is coming up focuses on setting up a “culture of resilience”, which is motivated by esteemed forefront leaders as well as medical leaders operating in collaboration with each other in order to ensure enhancement of operational willingness for soldiers together with their families.

They were the Marine Corps that conceived this continuum and it was then taken up by the DCoE in order to exhibit the resilience processes as involving timely intervention. This continuum’s main feature is the condensation of “levels of functioning, the intersection of different audiences for targeting interventions, and the continuum of interventions tied to restore functioning” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.6).

For a large number of people who are working in the military, prevention together with timely intervention via training as well as education will maintain them at the best functioning. Among them, those who exhibit responses to trauma as well as a stress may require risk alleviation.

A few of them will undergo suffering resulting from agony and require having more exhaustive psychological intervention in order to assist them in recovering and reintegrating “with their unit” (Meredith et al., 2011, p.7). The “Resilience Programs” are set up in a way aimed at keeping the soldiers as well as leaders together with their families psychologically fit in carrying out their duty.

It is important to point out that, at the present, the DCOE is in the process that facilitates bringing continuum model up-to-date, on the basis of fresh experience as well as findings obtained in the course of utilizing the current version (Meredith et al., 2011).

It is reported that a program has been set up for the resilience as well as positive psychology. The program is made up of two main parts; “a Global Assessment Tool and a course that all soldiers are required to take” (“Strengthening the Strong”, 2011, p.1). The GAT encompasses a general satisfaction scale in addition to five particular scales.

They are: “Strengths, emotional fitness, social fitness, spiritual fitness, and family fitness” (“Strengthening the Strong”, 2011, p.1). There is linking of these scales to the records of the military officers. Today, while there is an increase in the emotional fitness, there is realizing of a decline in the general health as well as in PTSD incidence.

Because this will lead to saving of lives and large amounts of money, the U.S government is supposed to be ready to invest in the program. The military has started making investments in these programs and the society will soon feel the positive effects (“Strengthening the Strong”, 2011).

The course part of the program is a course conducted on-line and it has four modules. These modules include “emotional fitness module, family fitness module, social fitness module, and spiritual fitness module” (“Strengthening the Strong”, 2011, p.1). There is need to have an organization in order to set up and carry out implementation of such a big program.

The program was set up with the most qualified experts. There was recruiting of the best professionals from every field by the military in order in order to integrate this all-inclusive training program which is aimed at bringing up the level of the resilience of every military officer. In real sense, the soldiers are anticipating prolonged tough wars in the future.

Terrorism carries out operation by destroying the foe’s resistance and not by only butchering large numbers of troops. The battles of attrition continue almost forever. However, that is what is anticipated in the not very far future and therefore, the objective is to offer training to the soldiers in order for them to acquire skills that are required for them to survive (“Strengthening the Strong”, 2011).

Conclusion

Positive psychology and resilience play a very major role in assisting soldiers from war to cope up with their situation. Positive psychology serves to improve the mental state of the soldiers as well as their families after they have gone through stress.

Resilience is applicable in enabling soldiers to recover from the stress they go through during and after the war. These two concepts are very much similar. There is need to put in place more programs that promote these in order to continue strengthening the soldiers.

References

Bonanno, G.A. (2004). Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience—Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive after Extremely Aversive Events?, American Psychologist, 59(1), 20–28.

Bonanno, G. A.,& Mancini, A. (2008). The Human Capacity to Thrive in the Face of Potential Trauma. Pediatrics, 121(1), 369–375.

Charlene, M. (2013). . Web.

Fredrickson, B.L., Tugade, M.M., Waugh, C.E., & Larkin, G.R. (2003). What Good Are Positive Emotions in Crises? A Prospective Study of Resilience and Emotions Following the Terrorist Attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 365–376.

Helmus, T.C. & Glenn, R. W. (2005). Steeling the Mind: Combat Stress Reactions and Their Implications for Urban Warfare. Santa Monica, C.A.: RAND Corporation, MG-191-DA, 2005.

Luthar, S. & Cicchetti, D. (2000). The Construct of Resilience: Implications for Interventions and Social Policies. Child Development, 71(3), 543–562.

Meredith, L. A., Sherbourne, C.D., Gaillot, S., Hansell, Ritschard, H.V., Parker, A.M. & Wrenn, G. (2011). . Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Web.

, (2011). Web.

Tanielian, T. &. Jaycox, L. (2008). Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. Santa Monica, C.A.: RAND Corporation.

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