By Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 27, 2017
Lt. Col. Brande Newsome, teaches a resiliency class to pre- and post-deployers and their loved ones at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program training event in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 18, 2017. Newsome, a 24-year military veteran, is a master resiliency trainer at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, who also works for Yellow Ribbon, which promotes the well-being of reservists and those closest to them by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan)
Lt. Col. Brande Newsome told the 20 people attending her resiliency training class Nov. 18 to imagine they were driving along a highway when suddenly an adjacent driver cuts them off, nearly causing a collision.
"What's your immediate reaction? Are you furious? Are you slamming the brake and honking the horn?" she asked.
This, she said, is an example of an activating event that triggers your brain to think about how to respond. As the brain is processing a response to the event, it does so based on past experiences. The consequences of the event can be emotional such as anger or frustration, and they can be physical like honking the horn and slamming on the brakes, she said.
These steps are the ABCs of Resiliency; Activating event, Brain processing and the Consequence. Newsome is a master resiliency trainer at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, and teaches these concepts to Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program attendees that enable individuals to better understand how our brains drive certain reactions to events.
Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. Each year, the Air Force Reserve program trains 7,000 reservists and those closest to them in education benefits, health care, retirement tips, resiliency and much more.
Newsome explained how awareness can provide greater control over a person’s thoughts and reactions that will lead to improved self-performance.
"The goal of this resiliency training is to be aware of how our brains drive reactions," she said. "Sometimes we respond to things as if it's is a 9 or 10 (on a scale of 10) but in reality, the situation is actually more like a 2 or 3."
The training she leads for Yellow Ribbon highlights how to more accurately respond to events at the level it requires and how to recognize when stress levels are peaking.
Air Force spouse Rebecca Squires said the class helped her realize how important it is to pause and take a step back before acting for any event.
"Identify what is happening first so that you will be able to come up with a response appropriate to the situation," Squires said. "This is applicable for home, the workplace and in the deployed environment when emotions can be high and stress strong."
Newsome said that when people are emotionally charged or invested in the outcome of an event, their IQ will drop approximately 15 to 20 points. This is an uncontrollable phenomenon but is important to be aware of its occurrence, she said. During emotionally charged events, a good practice is for a person to give a benefit of doubt to the situation and take a moment to find evidence that supports their opinion but also find evidence that contrasts their opinion before they act on an immediate reaction.
Lt. Col. Orren Squires, a civil engineering reservist from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, believes that resiliency is one of the more important topics for troops, especially those facing deployment.
"This is a critical skill for a good deployment," Squires said. "There is a lot of stress, for the troop and the family at home, that needs to be processed and dealt with properly so it's incredibly important that Airmen understand this resiliency so that they're able to properly react to situations that foster healthy relationships which will lead to a successful deployment."