More than 50 mid-tour drill sergeants here are spending time this week away from their trainees, completing necessary recertifications. More importantly, however, they’re getting extra free time to spend with friends and family while building resiliency.
The Drill Sergeant Resiliency Program has been overhauled and is now exactly what its title implies — a break from the long hours involved in training the Army’s future Soldiers, after which drill sergeants here can return to duty re-energized.
“The end state of the program we’ve revamped is to give more time to the drill sergeants — allow them to decompress and reconnect with family and friends,” said Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Command Sgt. Maj. Randolph Delapena. “I was a drill sergeant when this program was started, and it was something I asked about when I got here. We’ve changed the schedule to give more time off with more emphasis on resiliency rather than just recertifications.”
According to Master Sgt. Michael Schmitz, noncommissioned officer in charge of Operations, Plans and Training and the Directorate of Training and Leader Development for MSCoE, the goal was to remove the redundant and unnecessary and instead provide practical tools to benefit drill sergeants — all while giving as much time possible back “to these incredible NCOs.”
“Fort Leonard Wood’s drill sergeants are entrusted with a tremendous responsibility: taking America’s sons and daughters and turning them into great Soldiers,” Schmitz said. “This monumental task doesn’t come easy … (they) find themselves giving their all, often working 16- to 20-hour days for weeks on end to generate readiness and create Soldiers.”
The program is now 10 days long and will be offered once each month for service members about to begin their second or third year of drill sergeant duty, said Master Sgt. Jermon Tibbs, the NCO in charge of the program and the Soldier given the responsibility of scheduling the desired improvements.
This month’s program began Saturday. The drill sergeants were given the weekend off before beginning four mornings of briefings and recertifications Monday.
“After that, they get a four-day break to spend with family and friends,” Tibbs said. “The drill sergeants get time off while providing a structure for them to decompress.”
Tibbs said in addition to the annual required recertifications, many “self-growth” briefings have been integrated into the schedule.
“We have a chaplain who will provide daily classes for the drill sergeants and their families if they’d like, information on education opportunities, as well as informative briefings from the Army Wellness Center,” Tibbs said.
“There will also be opportunities for senior command sergeants major to address relevant career enhancing topics such as talent management and centralized evaluation boards,” Schmitz added.
Staff Sgt. Cale Buck is one year into his tour as a drill sergeant assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment. He said the most important improvement to the program is the opportunity to speak directly with Fort Leonard Wood’s senior leadership.
“It allows installation-level leaders to see what either needs to be fixed; what can stay the same; what programs are running great — they’re getting direct feedback from boots on the ground,” he said.