Leaders and professionals throughout the KMC, including those in the medical, chaplain, military and quality assurance fields, participated in a weeklong resiliency forum March 9 to 14 on Vogelweh Military Complex.
Several senior leaders of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command participated by sharing their stories and experiences. Volunteers from the 21st TSC, including members of the Sergeant Morales Club, played a formative role in developing relationships with area schools and students. Sergeant Morales Club members provided leadership for Army outreach activities and devoted enormous amounts of time to student mentorship programs.
The majority of events took place at the Kaiserslautern High School auditorium.
“The purpose of this forum is to give our students a chance to connect to all of the various providers available in our community,” said Kirstin Hage, a psychologist at Kaiserslautern Elementary/Middle School and Kaiserslautern High School, and leading organizer of the forum. “We want our children to know that it is possible to develop resilience and overcome obstacles, no matter how difficult that might be. This forum is shining a light on the strengths and concerns of our students.”
Col. Matthew Redding, 21st TSC chief of staff, served as one of the forum’s main speakers. The chief addressed tough issues head-on.
“Our country has been at war for the last 11 years,” Redding said. “To most of you, that is well over half of your life. As a child of a military family, you are presented with unique challenges and obstacles other families do not have.
“Your lives change quickly; you must continually adapt to change,” he continued. “This may seem like an obstacle, but you can choose to make this one of your strengths. Adapt, be resilient and help the child next to you who is having a harder time.”
Redding also discussed growing up during the Cold War, recounting the “duck and cover” exercises American children had to practice in school during the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades, 21st TSC senior enlisted leader, described some of the daunting obstacles he encountered during his childhood. However, through strength, determination, opportunities and the help of supportive individuals who made a difference, he attained remarkable career success.
“There is nothing more challenging than being raised as a military child,” Rhoades said. “Your parents are gone when you need them, you are moving all of the time and so many other actions affect you. But when you talk about these issues and adversities, you can overcome them. Find those influential people that you trust and respect, listen to what they say and recruit them to be on your team.”
Master Sgt. Michele Garner, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command first sergeant, delivered her own powerful story and offered some advice.
Garner focused on the importance of reaching and attaining goals.
“Whatever you want to do, you can do it,” she said. “Don’t listen to those who are not on your team and do not believe in you. Know that you are strong and you can achieve anything that you desire.”
Thomas Wirtz, a freshman at the high school, said attending the forum was very inspiring. “There is so much I can do with my life,” he said. “I never really considered joining the Army. This forum has opened my eyes to what I can achieve.”