HARTFORD, Conn. –
In the wake of recent suicides, the Connecticut National Guard aims to revitalize their resiliency curriculum.
To do this, senior leaders and staff of the Integrated Primary Prevention Workforce, or IPP, have partnered with Prevent & Treat Stress & Depression Now!, also known as PTSD Now!, to pilot Purple Resolve.
Purple Resolve is a resiliency program specially tailored for the National Guard community and highlights the challenges that Guard service members, retirees and their families face. The program aims to increase healthy and positive behaviors among Guardsmen by enhancing resiliency, promoting moral and ethical thinking at an individual and organization level and by giving Guardsmen the tools necessary to overcome the stressors unique to their lifestyle.
The program differs from other resiliency programs currently employed by the National Guard because of its foundation and focus on military culture, including focusing on building leaders who are capable of solving complex problems at an individual, and team, level. Additionally, the program focuses on the nobility of service in the Armed Forces and aims to inspire and instill an atmosphere of inclusion, honor, respect, and higher purpose.
“The top harmful behaviors that we’re charged with looking at are suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence,” said Connecticut Army National Guard Lt. Col. Ty Gorham, the Integrated Primary Prevention Officer for the Connecticut National Guard. “DoD wanted us to use the research that’s out there to do needs assessments for our population, looking at that data, and actually addressing the needs of what the soldiers and airmen are telling us. We’re doing that, we’re giving them the feedback on it and we’re hoping to improve the culture.”
To tackle these behaviors head on, the idea to investigate and possibly implement a new resiliency program was put forward by Connecticut Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Trouern-Trend, and Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Matthews, members of the IPP team. Both Trouern-Trend and Matthews traveled out to Nevada and participated in their Purple Resolve program, and the following Train-the-Trainer Facilitator class, or T3F, to conduct a preliminary assessment. Afterwards, they briefed their findings to Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, the Connecticut Adjutant General, who then, with the help of Connecticut Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Fredericks, the senior enlisted leader, started an initiative for a pilot program.
“We knew there was a need,” said Connecticut Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Fredericks. “We had [suicides] recently, we had none last year, fortunately, but nonetheless we have a lot of harmful behaviors in our organization and if we keep doing the same thing over and over, we’re never going to make any positive progress.”
Two initial classes of the initial Basic Purple Resolve course were held on July 17- 18 and July 19-20; training 60 service members, technicians and state employees of the Connecticut National Guard. Following these classes, 30 of the 60 attendees participated in the Train-the-Trainer Facilitator class. Purple Resolve will later be showcased to a larger audience of Connecticut National Guard personnel during the Connecticut National Guard’s Leadership Symposium on Sept. 16 and 17, 2023.
Currently, the IPP team hopes to train 110 instructors in the Army National Guard component and 50 instructors in the Air National Guard component utilizing Purple Resolve. Additionally, the team is aiming to train 90 noncommissioned officers at the E-5 and E-6 pay grade, across both components. Following that, an assessment will be conducted and the program will be evaluated for a potential wider rollout to the entirety of the Connecticut National Guard.
“We’ll put together what the collective assessment of the program is,” said Matthews. “The TAG will make a decision along with the Sergeant Major’s input, and the Command Chief’s input, [on whether or not to] support the relationship we’ve already developed with PTSD [Now!] to continue to use their grace. They have graced us with a $100,000 donation and training for materials and instructors. They have another $100,000 that they want to offer us if we continue the program.”
The program will not replace other resilience programs, like MRT or ASIST, however, it will augment these programs, giving Guard service members another tool they can pull from their tool kit when needed. After more user feedback, the course may be updated to include material from these programs.
“We’re pouring back into our force,” said Gorham. “Every program that we do, every initiative, is going to be another opportunity for us to pour back into our force. It’s like a bucket with holes in it. You keep pouring in and it keeps draining out, but if you don’t pour back into it, it’s going to run empty. We can’t let our troops down and run empty. We have to keep pouring back into them.”