By Pfc. Amy M. Lane
4th Sustainment Brigade
Capt. Mark Lee, 4th Brigade Troops Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command chaplain, and Lt. Col. John Hickey, the 4th Brigade Troops Battalion commander, developed the 5-4-5 program when they wanted to find a way to encourage leaders to get to know their soldiers better, and to be aware of issues that affect soldiers' lives.
The program helps soldiers feel comfortable opening up and speaking freely. Each weekly session consists of a guided conversation covering five topics or areas of life: financial, professional, relationship, personal and spiritual.
Leaders receive a small pamphlet each week with a discussion point for each topic, and they facilitate a small group discussion for five minutes per topic.
"The conversation flows quickly once a group gets started," Lee said. "The point is for the leader to guide a conversation, not to preach, teach or correct anyone. Just let them speak."
Lee said that the key to a great conversation was limiting the size of each group so everyone has a chance to speak.
"The goal is to proactively manage these areas of soldiers' lives," Lee said "Then we can intervene with any potential problems before they become bigger issues."
The 502nd Human Resources Company uses the program. Because of the success it has observed so far, Hickey and Lee intend for the entire Wrangler Brigade to eventually participate.
"Leaders have noticed that some of the groups that have used it have changed their attitudes and patterns of behavior since beginning the program," he said. "There has definitely been some improvement so we believe 5-4-5 can be very effective."
Lee has developed a training video to show leaders how the program works, but he says it is self-explanatory and anyone can facilitate a group with one of the pamphlets.
"The program is not rigid," he said. "It becomes what it needs to become and anyone can do it. Meetings are brief and they can be held anywhere."
While the 5-4-5 program was developed for the Wrangler Brigade, Lee has been contacted by Fort Hood's Spiritual Fitness Center for information about the program. He doesn't know if it will use it, but he feels that it would help any unit.
"We created this for our soldiers," he said. "But if anyone else wanted to adopt it, I don't see why not. It can really be useful to anyone."