Resilient — you don’t have to spend a lot of time at Fort Hood or in the Army to hear this buzzword.

Families participate in resiliency training, units have resiliency centers, Fort Hood has a Family Resiliency Academy and commanders prioritize making sure soldiers are resilient.

So why is it so important for the military community to learn to bounce back quickly, to withstand compression, stretching or bending, or overcome difficult conditions?

I was reminded constantly this month of the reasons. Military life isn’t just hard because of constant separation and saying goodbye to family and friends as they deploy and change duty stations. It’s hard, because it’s filled with gut wrenching sadness — loss and death become a familiar occurrence.

In the July 17 Fort Hood Herald, there were four soldier deaths listed — three happened within one weekend.

Like most soldiers, my husband wears a bracelet on his right wrist honoring one of his mentors from college who was killed in action. He has a tattoo across the same side of his body bearing this lieutenant’s name with the words “the best of us.”

Someone once asked me why soldiers do things like this. Isn’t it sad to see a constant reminder of death?

I told them it’s not about the death. Seeing that name and that date doesn’t remind my husband he lost a friend, it reminds him why he keeps going. Why he can’t give up when times get hard and the importance to honor the sacrifice made.

This month, my husband learned of another soldier he knew from his time as an enlisted soldier who was killed in Afghanistan a year ago.

The soldier had newborn twin daughters at home who he never met.

The two had lost touch, but the pain was just as real and fresh as if it had just happened.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I began to tally the loss of my husband’s friends and wonder how much room he had left on his arms and body to mark their sacrifices and celebrate their lives.

Then I think of resilience and know this is why the Army dedicates so much time to talking about it and teaching soldiers and families how to have it.

For a man who hasn’t even reached 30, my husband has seen more sadness and sacrifice than some civilians experience in their entire lives.

And I know he’s not alone. I’m sure this is true of most service members.

I didn’t know this latest friend whose death my husband heard about, but I feel the sadness with him. And every time I check my email and see the subject line “Death of a Fort Hood Soldier,” I know there is a family and a unit that are hurting.

Resiliency is the ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed.

The month of July was a difficult one at Fort Hood, and stretched many families and units. In a population surrounded by so much sadness, our resiliency is all we have holding us together.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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