The smell of freshly-popped popcorn filled the building as Soldiers and their families gathered for a Touchdown to Resilience Expo at the Oveta Cult Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center Saturday.
The expo is designed to teach Soldiers and families useful and practical resilience skills – skills that help Soldiers and families deal with military and civilian stressors – but with a twist. Each quarter the expo features a unique theme, from football parties to spring cleaning. This quarter focused on a tailgate party.
“I’m giving them resilience skills, but they don’t know it, it’s like I sneak it in,” Doris Arnett, Fort Hood Army Community Center Resilience Training Coordinator, said. Arnett is one of two resilience training coordinators for the entire U.S. Army.
“There is resilience in everything you do in your life. Being here and playing cornhole with your family is more resilient than sitting home on your couch, because you communicate with each other,” Arnett added.
Activities such as cornhole games, an escape room, football throw, maze and photo booths with props, each had resiliency lessons taught by volunteers and Army Community Services employees. Each event offered a prize give-away or an opportunity to win prizes. The entire event was free and was geared toward both single and married Soldiers and their families.
The expo featured more than 10 agencies, including MilitaryOne Source, American Red Cross, Exceptional Family Member Program, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers and ComfortCrew. The Fort Hood Culinary Arts Academy provided a team of seven Soldiers who demonstrated how to prepare and cook healthy options of favorite tailgate foods.
Military OneSource is a resource that has had a direct impact on at least one of the Soldiers in attendance.
“When going through family issues MilitaryOne Source provided a free counselor for me and the kids. They also had resources online. It’s my go-to,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Ashton Clark, a petroleum specialist with 652nd Regional Support Group, out of Helena, Montana.
“You can get online, and they offer free books to help the kids who have parents leaving deal with that,” Clark added.
Military OneSource also offers resources such as counseling, tax software, tax consultants and document translation among others.
“We have something for everyone,” Adrian Balbo, a Fort Hood Military OneSource representative, said. “It’s all free and up to one year after one gets out of the military.”
Another popular stop was the food prep station. A team of cooks from the Fort Hood Culinary Arts Academy chopped, prepped and taught participants how to make healthy tailgate food. In the course of the event, the team made cowboy caviar, guacamole and buffalo chicken balls. Healthy nutrition is the third pillar of the performance triad and essential to optimal performance.
The Fort Hood American Red Cross was also on-hand to provide information to Soldiers and families about how they can connect in times of an emergency. They also offer short training sessions to help families deal with deployment and reconnecting.
“I served for 27 years and I want to continue to give back,” Rodney Hughes, an American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces representative, said. “All of our volunteers have a heart for giving back and helping Soldiers.”
In addition to valuable lessons on resiliency and available resources, the expo offered Soldiers and their families a day of fun.