Commentary by Army Col. Pete Andrysiak
2d Engineer Brigade commander
12/19/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Last
month, I had the opportunity to speak to my Soldiers about resilience
and the importance of constantly replenishing their personal wells of
fortitude. The term was articulated by author and Army psychologist
retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who described the well as "a
private reservoir of inner strength and fortitude."
When we experience stress by enduring life's trials, our wells are
depleted accordingly. These personal trials can be physical, emotional,
spiritual or intellectual. Anybody who draws too deeply from their well
will eventually be in serious trouble, because they won't have the
resilience to continue on. When good things happen, when we live healthy
lifestyles and when we do things we enjoy, our wells are replenished.
The key to being resilient is consistently finding sources of
replenishment. Every person is different and not everyone's sources for
replenishment are the same, but there are a few that are almost
One that I highly recommend is regular and vigorous physical activity.
Exercise strengthens your body and helps you to cope with stress. I'm a
firm believer that good physical training in the morning can set the
tone for the rest of the day. That is why I expect units under my
command to have well-planned and resourced PT every duty day and that
every Soldier participates.
If the Trailblazers are pushing hard and experiencing intense,
physically-demanding exercise every morning, then I know my Soldiers
have a regular source of replenishment and the level of resilience
across the ranks will remain high.
For most people, the holidays can also serve as a source of support.
Spending time with family and friends, time off of work and the spirit
of the season can do wonders for invigorating the human soul. But the
military is a demanding lifestyle and thousands of your fellow service
members will be away from their loved ones this holiday season. For them
and others, the holidays can be a huge draw on their well.
The personal commitment and concern of a dedicated leader is a huge
source for replenishing a service member's well. Leaders must know how
each of their subordinates intends to spend the holidays. Talk to them
about their plans, make recommendations and even consider if there is
room at your table to invite them for a meal over the holidays.
Leaders who know their troops will be able to identify factors impacting
those they are responsible for. Being away from family (especially for
the first time), spending the holidays alone, abusing alcohol and other
substances, a broken relationship and financial burdens can all be major
draws from a person's well. Be aware of the trials and stresses in your
troops' lives and find ways to help them identify sources of
One of the most powerful sources I have found is spiritual replenishment
through service to others. When you do something nice and unexpected
for someone else, it becomes a source not only for yourself, but also
for the person you've served. If you're feeling like your well is
running low, find an opportunity to do something nice for someone else.
You may be surprised at how much better you will feel by making a
difference in someone else's life.
My wife, Casey, and I hope you will make the most of this special time
of year. Do everything you can to replenish your personal well of
fortitude while looking for opportunities to serve others. Happy
Arctic Trailblazers - Put 'em across!