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                 pain/hopelessness that is overwhelming an individ- ual’s sense of connectedness. Often, this is as simple as “taking care of Soldiers” and addressing person- nel actions in a timely manner. Many trainees enter the Army with a litany of financial issues and little understanding of their pay and benefits. Resolving these issues and instilling confidence in the trainee that he/she is meeting the needs of their immediate family goes a long way in restoring connectedness by eroding perceptions of burdensomeness. Lead- ers should also look internally and seek to address behaviors within their formations that undermine trainee connectedness. This includes bullying, ostracization, hazing, and collective punishment. These behaviors are contrary to Army organiza- tional values and erode connectedness in at-risk personnel by reinforcing perceptions of thwarted belongingness and burdensomeness. Unfortunately, these counter-productive behaviors were common- place in basic training until recently. Generations of drill sergeants regarded them as necessary to inculcate discipline in Soldiers. Recent experience has shown us that this is patently false, but the perception remains. Consequently, the basic train- ing enterprise should continue to seek to eradicate these antiquated methods and embrace ongoing initiatives that seek to establish cadre as coaches, teachers, and mentors. This will yield tangible ben- efits in improving the quality of graduating Soldiers as well as creating an environment of dignity and respect that facilitates trainee connectedness.
The adaptation of the approaches mentioned above to training also supports the development of inclusive teams, which is another effective method
for increasing at-risk Trainee connectedness. The current generation of trainees comes from a diverse background, and some lack the family support infrastructure that we usually associate with Ameri- can culture. Because of this, a significant population enters the Army with a low sense of connectedness and an acquired ability to commit self-harm. The development of inclusive teams facilitates con- nectedness by invalidating feelings of thwarted belonging. For some trainees, joining the Army is the first time in their respective lives that they have experienced an effective support structure, and they fully embrace being a Soldier. For others, though, the transition is more difficult because they lack
the social and emotional skills to thrive in a martial environment.
Nevertheless, it is incumbent on leaders to build teams that integrate all Soldiers regardless of their perceived shortfalls. Failure to meet the standard does not mean that they are “off the team”; it merely means that the trainee in question requires additional support from the team to achieve the standard. The realization that an individual has the support of a larger team and that their success is predicated on their willingness to work is an extremely powerful way to support connectedness and improve trainee resilience.
One of the primary factors Joiner identifies in his theory is the role that access to lethal means and practical ability (factors that make suicide easier,
for example, access to firearms and the ability to use them) affect the likelihood of suicidal behavior. Ba- sic combat training is an environment that provides trainees with both risk factors by design as respon- sible weapons handling is a crucial aspect of being
a Soldier. This makes it incumbent on commanders to continually review and validate risk management procedures associated with securing, handling, and storing weapons and ammunition. This would seem intuitive, but most view this from a loss prevention perspective instead of a force protection perspec- tive. In actuality, both are equally important, and
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