Sarah Brown, a yoga and core fitness instructor with the Marine 360 training team, teaches a session on spirituality at the USO in Jacksonville, N.C., on Dec. 4. (Lance Cpl. Scott Whiting/Marine Corps)
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The next generation of military resiliency training may have arrived.
A class of 46 sergeants and staff sergeants at Camp Lejeune, N.C., participated in a five-day pilot program for Marine 360, an intensive military resiliency course that encompasses such topics as combat stress, sleeping habits and sexual health. It emphasizes open-ended discussions and hands-on workshops. Some participants have called it life-changing. And it may be coming soon to a base near you. What you need to know:
1. Piloted in the Army
The program, headed by retired Army Col. Mary Lopez, began in Grafenwoehr, Germany, as “Soldier 360” and has served more than 1,200 Army noncomissioned officers there, at Fort Bragg, N.C., and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. It made its way to Camp Lejeune through a sponsorship by the USO of North Carolina.
2. Less Powerpoint, more yoga
Marine 360 features relaxation, health and fitness practices, including yoga, acupuncture and hypnosis. But core fitness and yoga instructor Sarah Brown said it also takes a different kind of approach to instruction, emphasizing conversation and talking through various experiences.
“For one of the first times in a Marine’s career, we’re not telling them how they need to be resilient,” she said. “We focus on individual differences.”
3. Designed for leaders
Marine 360 is designed for NCOs and SNCOs, who can learn resiliency techniques and take them back to the Marines they lead. A participant at Lejeune, Staff Sgt. Rich Hunter, a substance abuse control officer for 6th Marine Regiment, said he looks forward to sharing what he has learned during the course and implementing the new communication techniques.
“I know it helped a lot of the Marines there to find that common denominator with different individuals in the class,” he said. “We all know that we’ve been through hard times and we’ve been through different things. But we actually see it and we hear it and we’re able to talk about it as a whole.”
4. Spouses welcome
Marines’ spouses were invited to join in for portions of the course to reinforce communication skills and extend resiliency practices to the home. Hunter said he and his wife enjoyed the couples’ yoga activities.
5. Opportunity for growth
USO of North Carolina hopes to sponsor 16 Marine 360 programs next year, said John Falkenbury, the president. And they are exploring program expansion in the Corps.
“I feel what we are doing is beta testing the possibility of USO collaborating with Dr. Lopez and her team and making this a much broader thing,” he said.