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Photo Caption: Sgt. 1st Class Michael Evans, a Level 3 instructor with the Master Resilience School at Fort Jackson, S.C., teaches a group of Level 1 students Aug. 12, 2014. Evans is the only Soldier who works as a Level-3-certified instructor at the school.

August 14, 2014
Andrew McIntyre, Fort Jackson Leader

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Aug. 14, 2014) -- Every day, the possibility of dealing with a setback is real -- whether it is being late for work, having sick children or dealing with a car that won't start. Overcoming a setback is defined as having resilience.

In 2009, the Army established the Master Resilience Training program, which is a component of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program to help Soldiers, families and civilians across the Army perform better and deal with various setbacks.

MRT trainers are stationed across the nation to teach their Army community members how to build resilience through personal and professional enhancement skills.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Evans, assistant primary instructor, Level 3 Master Resilience Trainer with the Master Resilience School on Fort Jackson, is one of 12 certified Level 3 instructors across the Army and is the only Level 3 certified Soldier teaching at the school.

He said he defines a setback as an activating event, and that event determines a person's emotions and reactions.

"Teaching a Soldier how to control his or her thoughts, reactions and emotions during that activating event can turn a Soldier's whole career around," Evans said. "We have Soldiers that come here and are literally filing for divorce, and they leave here and their packets are shredded. Their marriage is revived. They have figured out how to communicate with someone."

The Master Resilience School trains Level 1 and Level 2 courses. Level 1 is an intensive 10-day course, but Level 1 certified MRTs are only able to attend the Level 2 and Level 3 courses by recommendation from their co-workers and chain of command. Level 3 students are taught at Pennsylvania State University.

Evans said when he was selected to attend Level 1 training, he was serving as a drill sergeant and he admitted to having a preconceived idea about the training.

"MRT kind of gets that look like it's 'huggy-feely' and 'softer Army.' It took me a day to realize that's not what it is about -- it is actually about being able to control your thoughts and figure out how I think about things is how I react and feel on a daily basis," Evans said.

Evans said that his background as a senior mechanic, shop motor sergeant, drill sergeant and platoon sergeant have contributed to his ability to teach the MRT model to other leaders.

"I wish I would have had this training on multiple deployments, especially, with the platoon sergeant jobs and just understanding that people work differently," he said. "(Knowing) how our thoughts drive our emotions, reactions and being able to tap into more of that with my Soldiers would have made me more of an effective leader, hands down."

He explained that a lot of the NCOs, who come to the course are surprised to see a fellow NCO and combat veteran teaching the course.

"NCOs who come to the MRT course look at me like I am crazy when I get in front of the class, but once I start talking they can relate," Evans said. "I think the school house benefits from having an NCO here rather than an all-civilian staff because Soldiers can look up and see a combat veteran and say, 'This guy has done every job that you don't want to do. If he can apply it to his everyday life then so can I.'"

Evans says his experience and knowledge as a Level 3 MRT instructor has helped his family as well.

"I completely re-established my relationship with my teenager," he said. "I have a 14-year-old and using the skills of 'effective praise' and being specific about the things he does right. We have a personal story on a daily basis of how much we've grown, because of us using those life skills."

He said the skills allowed him to not only be there for his children when things go wrong, but also taught him how to be there when things go right -- how to point out the things they do well and not just the things they do badly.

"All of my kids can tell you what an 'iceberg' is; they can to tell you what 'active constructive responding' is. That really just drives home that those are life skills," he said.