By Victor O'Brien

Fort Hood Herald

The Army's definition of "Army strong" could be redefined with the help of the Fort Hood Resiliency Campus.

In the process the Army's changing how soldiers and their families train for the rigors of deployments, separation and the stresses of a military lifestyle. The results could have far-reaching effects for Bell County, especially for criminal justice professionals.

The stresses of the Army lifestyle often play out in the home between roommates, husband and wives and parents and children, contributing to Bell County's alarming rates of family violence.

The Fort Hood Resiliency Campus targets soldiers and their families before deployments leave the marks and wounds that break apart families. The resiliency campus arose recently as a hot topic as the Army considers placing campuses across the country.

Seeking to curb a family violence epidemic, Bell County Assistant County Attorney Anne Jackson formed the Central Texas Family Violence Task Force in 2009. The task force brings professionals across the area together to learn how they can help each other fight family violence.

Military families were involved in roughly half of the misdemeanor family violence cases in Killeen in 2010, according to numbers compiled by Jackson's office.

Jackson enlisted Col. Bill Rabena, resiliency campus commander Thursday to share the resources and success of the Fort Hood Resiliency Campus with about 30 task force members.

The campus grew out of a mindset change that the Army, which helped broken families after the break, needed to strengthen the family's foundation before the break, Rabena said.

Focusing on mind, body and spirit enrichment, the Army offers programs, not therapy, Rabena said, that help soldiers and their families strengthen themselves for deployments.

The campus unifies a long list of holistic health services the Army offers into a central location. The services include meditation, marriage enrichment, teen family groups, suicide intervention training, financial counseling, physical fitness, and work productivity techniques.

"It's not all about folks that have problems. It's about strength," Rabena said.

The Army wants to erase the stigma associated with needing and asking for help. The plan appears to be working as participation continues rising, currently at more than 3,300 soldiers per week. A core part of the program's success is the adoption of an Army Center for Enhanced Performance, a West Point pioneered program that aspires to strengthen soldiers in the areas of academics and athletics.

The program applies a sports model used to train athletes' minds and bodies with Army families. Jackson, a military spouse, vouched that her own sports training pushed her through the struggles of her husband's deployments.

The program trains families to cope with instability, separation and education issues and to do so with goals as a guide. More than a Powerpoint presentation, the two-day trainings teach families how to apply techniques into their daily lives, senior trainer Todd Ryska said.

"It's about resiliency and the skills to deal with adversity," Ryska said. "We look at spouses as tactical athletes. These skills they learn can be applied to what they are doing."

Contact Victor O'Brien at or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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