OYM Steven | 360 VA Program

 

Many military leaders who mostly find the leadership aspect of their positions particularly difficult usually deal with deep personal problems. This is what the 360 VA Programs want to zoom in on: the battles within their families and relationships that badly need attention. Created by Brig. Gen. Retired Steven L. Salazar and Mary Lopez, Ph.D., the program aims to serve soldiers challenges involving broken families, domestic abuse, mental health, stress management, and traumatic experiences. They join Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D to explain how putting the spotlight on these destructive personal issues can help men and women in military service discover a better version of themselves, which also shapes them as better leaders.

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Listen to the podcast here:

Shaping Inspired Veterans Through The 360 VA Program With Brig. Gen. Retired Steven L. Salazar And Mary Lopez, Ph.D.

In 2010, Brigadier General Stephen L. Salazar and Colonel Mary Lopez founded the Leader 360 Program while Brigadier General Salazar was the Commanding General of The Joint Multinational Training Command, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army.

Thank you all for being here. It’s a delight to meet you. I was hoping you could let us know a little bit about how you got into the work you do and what drives your passion for it.

Thank you, Dr. Hayes. I appreciate the opportunity to join you here. We started the 360 Program when Dr. Mary Lopez and I were still on active duty in Grafenwöhr, Germany in 2010. It began in about 2009. I’d come out of my second tour in Iraq. I was arriving to take command of the Grafenwöhr Military Community in Germany, where we had about 42,000 soldiers and civilians their family members. As I was arriving, I was notified that we had a suicide of a soldier in a brigade combat team that was deployed to Iraq. When I started looking into it, I found out that we had had more suicide in that brigade combat team in a year of combat than they’d had during their entire tour, which is quite upside down.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the statistics behind it but I know anecdotally from talking to several soldiers that they went through very significant combat experiences but they have since lost more colleagues to suicide than they did in that actual combat fight. That was the scenario we were in. That was 2009. It was very tough. It was a lot of stress in our command because we had units coming back from a year-long deployment in Iraq. They were going to turn around and then go to Afghanistan. It was redeployed and an awful lot of stress.

The Army recognized the challenge in suicide prevention and started a suicide prevention campaign. We start our suicide prevention campaign in our community. Our medical commander introduced me to Dr. Mary Lopez, who was tasked to develop a course to help redeploy soldiers cope with the consequences of their combat experience, specifically to address their mental health. What she designed, which we turned 360 course is a holistic health integrative resilience program. We call it, “Skills for Leader, Skills for Life.” It’s to equip these young military members with resilience skills to be able to be stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially.

In turn, they will be more effective leaders by doing so. We rolled out our very first class in March of 2010. I asked Dr. Lopez to evaluate it because we’re taking time and a little bit of money to make this happen and we want to see that it made a difference. We used what’s called the Kirkpatrick training model to evaluate, which has four levels, “Did they like it that they learned? Did it make a difference? Did they use it? Did they make a difference?”

We found statistically that it made a significant difference. We continued to deliver the course within our command. Years later, as Dr. Lopez retired and there was interest for the 360 course across the Army, she formed a woman-owned small business to be able to deliver the course to active duty military members and their spouses under small government contracts. We have continued to do that for many years. We have trained about 3,500 soldiers who supervise over 50,000 military members, both civilian and military.

Soldiers on occasion as we go through the call, when I say soldiers, I use the definition that Colin Powell did, which is soldiers are soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, we referred to all of them as soldiers. One of the things that has evolved in my personal thinking is that our lexicon seems to be broken or flawed because we refer to physical being physically fit and we all have an image of what physically fit means. We’d go out and work out to become physically fit. Our soldiers start with this when they go through their military training.

OYM Steven | 360 VA Program

360 VA Program: When people use the term “mentally fit,” it is usually taken as if some problem or ailment is going on, even if you describe a person in perfect health.

 

The term we use is mental health. When we refer to mental health or behavioral health, we’re thinking of some ailment or unhealthy. It seems like a lexicon is backward. When we refer to mental health, we think of someone who has a disability, a challenge or a shortcoming, as opposed to someone who is doing all that they can using different resources to include those that we provide during the 360 course to be as mentally healthy as they possibly can be.

A part of what we’re trying to accomplish through our 360 course is to train these leaders so that we can help change the culture within our military and look at mental health from an affirmational standpoint, that this is something we are doing day in and day out to improve our mental health. Soldiers go through training and first aid.

In our military care system, there are three levels of care. There’s self-care, buddy care or first aid where you take care of yourself or your buddy. There’s your level 1 with traumatic, emergency care and then level 3, when you get to an inpatient hospital. We could look at physical health that way but for some reason, we don’t look at our mental health that way.

We are doing our own to be as mentally fit as we possibly can. Whenever we have a shortcoming, we can turn to our buddy where we can rely on some tools that we have put in our kit as our first aid to help promote our mental health. In turn, when that’s not working for us, we can go reach out to us to that next level, whether that’s the chaplain or the local unit psychologist. If it becomes more clinical, then we can take it to the next level to level three and into a hospital, if necessary.

For some reason, we stigmatized mental health. One of the things we talk about in our course is getting into that climate in which many of our high-end units after you’ve gone for a long run because you’re preparing for something physically, you walk in your buddy and say, “How are you doing?” Somebody will say, “My neck is a little sore. My back’s a little sore because I did this 12-mile road march,” or whatever the case may be. It’s common like a badge of honor.

Nobody walks in and says, “I’m a little bit down. I got some bad news. Something happened to my family. I ate something wrong so my nutrition is off.” We don’t have that conversation. We’d love to see in our military to get to that kind of conversation. Understanding that being mentally well is something we have to work on day in and day out and minute by minute in some cases. That’s accepted and it becomes an understanding of what it is that we do.

Whenever you have a shortcoming regarding your mental health, you can turn to a friend to gather some tools to put in your own first aid kid for your mind.

Back to the 360 story, we’ve been given the course for many years. For many years during graduations, I would say, “There are no guarantees in life but we offer a lifetime warranty as what 360 does.” We did have a means of doing that. Dr. Lopez and I cofounded a nonprofit organization, 360 Veterans Association. It’s a 501(c)(3) war veterans’ organization. It is comprised of its members. Everyone who goes to the 360 courses is invited to become a member of the 360 Veterans Association so that they can get services and support through their lifetime to continue their journey of being as 360 strong as they possibly can be.

How many people have you run through the course either from its inception or the past few years?

We’ve got 3,500 active-duty military members. We focus on our first-line leaders. The reason is that we believe that is the decisive point. My story is that when I was a command, not long after we started 360 course, the Army published a 385-page report called The Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention Study. It was a mouthful. I read every page. I was trying to find out what’s the answer to our suicide problem. I noticed it says not suicide prevention but health promotion.

There was a very significant chart that I’ll never forget. It had a spiral across the bottom. What it talked about is that there’s the study of transition stress. In every transition event, there is either some traumatic growth or a challenge that comes with that. In that study, they found that the average non-commissioned officer in our Army who has served about the eight-year point has gone through an equivalent number of life transitions. In other words, graduated from high school, got a job, got a promotion, moved, got married, had a kid, bought a house, retired as does the average American male that lives to 80.

Picture all of that compressed into that eight years of service. I pictured that as the coal being hardened or the turtles that have made their way up to the beach safely. The perception was that there are high-performing non-commissioned officers, which they are. These are very high-performing first-line leaders. However, the reality is that they’re not as strong as they should be and the deduction from the study was that since these guys seem to be high performing, we should focus our Army resources on our high-risk population, which are our 18 to 22-year-olds.

In my view, great analysis, wrong reduction because the high-risk population has been eighteen-year-old privates. They will always be eighteen-year-old privates because they just came out of civilian society. The difference is in our non-commissioned officers. When I was a young private in 1976, my NCO was a young E5 Buck Sergeant who is 32 years old. He had come from a nuclear family. He had 1 wife, 2 kids, 1 car, knew how to balance his checkbook and wrote a 5-paragraph operations order every time he’s going to take his family away on vacation.

Not an indictment but our society is very different. Our military members represent our society. Fifty percent of them come from broken families or broken homes. Thirty percent of them are survivors of some adverse childhood experiences, trauma, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assaults. It’s staggering numbers. We make them non-commissioned officers very quickly. Some of them are 22 to 24 years old. They are barely adults themselves.

They have come from an environment in which they have not seen effective parenting or couples’ communication. They don’t know how to do those things properly. They don’t know how to balance their checkbook or manage their finances. They can’t impart these kinds of life skills to young individual soldiers, the high-risk population that we’re dealing with. They’re dealing with their alcohol and substance abuse, mental health and relationship challenges. That’s the reason we focus on this decisive point with these non-commissioned officers.

We believe if we equipped them with these skills, they will be better individuals, husbands, fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, wives and consequent. In return, they will also be better leaders. We also find that in our military, so many of our services are undersubscribed. Virtually everything we do in the 360 course, there is a program somewhere in the Army that provides it. You can find a yoga instructor, mental health provider, physical therapist, financial counselor but they don’t do it in an integrative way that incentivizes these leaders to embrace and accept these skills, start to make them a part of their lives and make a change.

OYM Steven | 360 VA Program

360 VA Program: According to the study, the average non-commissioned officer in the US Army who has served about eight years would have gone through life transitions equivalent to those of an average 80-year-old American.

 

Once those individuals have done that, they’re more likely to grab their young Private Salazar saying, “Steve, come with me. I’m taking you to finance,” before they bounce a check. We call it Get in Left of Boom. This is what we’re trying to do at our command. This comes from our counter ID strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is to defeat the ID before it detonates. That means interdict the ID before it gets planted or whatever the case may be.

Unfortunately, in our military, many of our services are financial counseling. Our social services and alcohol and substance abuse counseling don’t take care of the soldier until after some adverse event has taken place after they’ve gotten a DUI, failed a drug analysis test, bounced a check at the PX, caught or indicted for some domestic violence incident. What we’re trying to do is get in front of all of those things, which increases the rate of referrals to military services.

We believe that this same approach can be of value in our civil society because we’re looking at the fact that this military population that we’re helping come from and will go back to civil society. The systemic challenges are within our civil society, which is the reason we admire what the Journey’s Dream is doing. Same challenges but we’re in a unique, culture and climate within the military with a whole lot of resources that are undersubscribed.

What you’re doing is working with active-duty people only?

Yes. We get some veterans. We also get Gold Star family members. We have one very special Gold Star family member who is also a Leadership Award recipient for our class whose husband died by suicide. He was an Army major who died by suicide and she considered suicide herself as well.

There are some resources that I want to make sure that you are aware of. I’m thinking of people that we’ve interviewed that are helping with the transition from active duty to civilian life. A team of people on that does that and then they referred me to somebody who works through Rush in Chicago. She’s a Gold Star mother but leading that program. I want to make sure there are some cross-referrals here and make sure that one source might feed the other because there is a lot of good stuff happening.

In 2011, the Defense Center of Excellence for PTSD and TBI was looking for resilience programs to evaluate. Dr. Lopez raised her hand. They evaluated our program, published their report in 2012 and they found statistical evidence that the 360 course reduced cycle methodology meaning if you came in with symptoms of post-traumatic stress and mitigate those symptoms, improved wellbeing. Meaning, you were happier with yourself, with your unit, the Army, your family and improve sleep. You could go to sleep on time, stay asleep and wake up when you wanted to.

We think those are very significant outcomes. One thing they did not find was evidence of pain mitigation but we’ve done a lot to improve that in that area as well. We have significant statistical results and tremendous anecdotal results. I can’t count the number of soldiers who have told us that the course saved their lives.

The new generation of military officers come from an environment where they have not seen parenting or couples communication. Because of this, they find it difficult to impart such life skills to younger soldiers.

What is the length or duration of the course?

It has been a one-week course. We’ve turned it back into a two-week course. During COVID, we’ve done it on a virtual platform. We’ve done our Microsoft Teams over two weeks. We invite spouses to participate.

For that 1 week or 2 weeks, how many days or hours is the actual contact?

It’s 4 hours each morning for 2 weeks and then we do one-on-one sessions. Each individual who goes to the course gets a one-on-one session. We start with yoga every morning and then we do course content from about 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Individuals are getting signed up for a one-on-one session with a psychologist, physical therapist, spiritual counselor, financial advisor and we also do hypnotherapy. Mary is a certified hypnotherapist and we get some tremendous results out of hypnotherapy.

Steve always does an excellent job of giving an overview of our starting but there are a couple of points that I wanted to make sure we emphasized. 2010 was a tough time. Lots of troops were coming back from the downrange and we were concerned with what we were seeing, the alcohol, risk-taking behavior, relationship failures, divorces and suicides. He said that we needed to do something.

We systematically looked at the programs that existed at that time. They talk about the field of 1,000 balloons. Everybody’s good idea was up there but it was chaotic and disjointed. I wasn’t a full colonel. I couldn’t figure out how to navigate the system. How do you expect someone else to do that? We came up with a proposal to target the non-commissioned officer. In our system, they’re the first identifier and first responders. They look at their troops in the IVD and say, “How are you doing? What’s going on with you?”

Our original intent was to give them more tools in their leader toolkit so they could better identify and respond to their troops’ issues but what we found was that the NCS themselves had been deployed so many times. They had so much of the trauma that they were carrying. Many didn’t realize how disconnected they become, how inefficient they were and ineffective as a leader because they were so involved with what they were carrying.

In some cases, to be honest, they became toxic leaders. Also in the program, everything we do is science-based. In 2010, we had a lot of skeptics. We had a lot of commanders who were skeptical about, “What you’re going to do with this hippy-dippy crazy stuff? Are you going to have them do yoga? Are you going to turn my tough soldiers into sissies? What are you doing?” To justify what we were doing, everything had to be solidly grounded in science. We spent some time looking at all of the research. Everything we talked about was solid. We also said, “Make it truly holistic.”

This is our challenge in the military and civilian system that everything is stovepiped but people are complex interactions of stuff. For example, if we have soldiers who had problems with alcohol, so you send them to alcohol counseling. They’re going to talk about drinking behavior, how much alcohol is in the shot glass but they don’t talk about issues with sleep, stress, what happened downrange, spiritual issues, relationship failures or pain, anything that’s related to the drinking behavior that’s been settling for years. You’re not going to get the solid balance troop.

Steve’s going to talk more about what we do. We talk about the science of stress and stress management. We’ve learned through doing that the intent is to give them more tools in their toolkit but also take care of themselves. Healthy leaders are more effective leaders. You have to have your mask on first before you can help the next person. We wanted to give them tools and they improve themselves through doing.

Our topics have evolved over many years based on science. We at first talked about the basics of stress and then stress as an inflammatory response. We talk about the structure of the brain and how to keep our brains healthy. We talk about the importance of sleep, nutrition and the gut-brain connection. We’ve modified and been able to evolve the curriculum based on scientific developments.

OYM Steven | 360 VA Program

360 VA Program: Military members represent most of society, and around 50% of them come from broken families or homes, and 30% are survivors of adverse childhood experiences.

 

From a science perspective, it takes 25 years before scientific discoveries become part of our everyday behavior. We’re facilitating that by giving these to the leaders. The number that got we’ve trained is 3,500 but the real impact is that they supervise 50,000 soldiers. You’ve empowered our foot soldiers to be that first identifier, “What’s going on with you? Here’s a science-based tool. Try this.” From a systems perspective, they are the referral network.

If they know what the services do, the spiritual counselors, financial counselors and psychologists, know what it is. I identify this person and I say, “You need to talk to a chaplain.” In the past, if I’d have somebody who had a problem with alcohol, I’d send them right away to the alcohol counselor but as I sit down, talk to them and identify what’s going on with them, I send them to the right place. You have a timely and effective intervention because you’ve empowered your foot soldiers to start becoming those change agents within our system and it works.

We’ve got the researches behind it. We’re the only program in the Department of Defense that has solid outcome-based research that supports what we’re doing. It’s truly holistic. Our team is a high-powered team. Strength is in the team. Every member of the team is important, the yoga instructor, financial counselor, spiritual counselor, physical therapist, psychologist and all of us. Every single person has a part of it. We do get that truly holistic change. The change you see in people in 2 weeks is greater than you would see in 5 years in a disconnected system and it’s powerful. That change persists and that’s the important part.

It’s not like a one-and-done. They’ve done the class. I feel good at the end and then I go back to the same behaviors because in two weeks and they’ve done that learning through doing, they realize that personal benefit and that change that persists. We followed them up 5, 10 years, they’re still using the 360 tools. This stuff works. It changes lives and makes a difference. That’s our passion because it works.

Thank you, Mary. We have testimonials everything from, “Saved my life to saved my marriage, helped me stop drinking, helped me stop smoking, helped me communicate more effectively with my spouse and children.” We’ve had generational change, not only the 50,000 that they lead but the children that they are raising. We have changed the climate and the environment within their homes and the way that they raised their children. We have evidence of that.

Way back when we were doing the classes in Germany, we had an NCO who brought his spouse and child. He sat down and had dinner with them. The wife said, “I had this beautiful five-year-old boy and he’s wonderful,” but he hasn’t said a word. He doesn’t speak. That NCO came angry and you could feel it. When you sit next to somebody, they can almost vibrate the anger. This guy was angry. We go through the class and halfway through, he stands up and says, “I have an anger issue.” His wife is in the back and burst into tears. We tried talking about how to work on it.

At the very end of the class, the wife came up and said, “I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden, my son’s talking.” This is the thing, that kid knew that if he said something, dad’s angry, so it’s safer not to say a word. What was going to happen when he started going to school? He’s going to be a troubled child. He’s not going to be successful in school. He’s going to struggle.

If every non-commissioned officer is equipped with better life skills, they will be better individuals, and in return, be better leaders.

You see the pathway that this kid was going to take but you go back to that pivotal event. Dad says, “I’ve got an anger issue and I’ve got to do something about it.” The kid feels safe in that home. It’s a huge difference. He started to talk and gained self-confidence. It’s a different trajectory for that child back at that one pivotal point. We see this repeatedly. That’s what we’re doing. We changed his pathway.

We’ve had amazing testimonials about substance abuse and domestic violence. Young men would say, “My father was abused by my grandfather and I was abused by my father but it stops with me,” whether it’s sexual abuse, child abuse or alcoholism. We can’t imagine anything more powerful than that. When we first started this, we were in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The things have evolved to where our soldiers don’t have as much combat experience but the amount of trauma that these young leaders bring into the course is mind-boggling to me.

The number of them who have been sexually assaulted as children and abused is staggering. These are great young leaders but they’ve been through tremendous abuse. We had graduation with one soldier, a young staff sergeant leading soldiers in combat, our nation’s treasure. He says, “My very first memory was being in a foster home and at the age of four being sexually assaulted. My second memory was being sexually assaulted by a different individual at the age of four in that same foster home.” These are the very first memories of his life. He goes on with the rest of his story, which continues to be tragic and it’s mind-boggling. This is a guy serving our country.

Let me tell you why this course is so different than every other course in the military. I spent 32 years in the active-duty military. I’ve been through all kinds of military training to include ranger school and others. What makes this course unique is that, first of all, it is about you. It is not about teaching you how to lead or how to be more tactically or technically proficient. It’s teaching you how to be a better you. The other is it’s all evidence-based. Some of it may seem like hippy-dippy stuff but all of it is based on science and it’s proven to work.

The other is it is being delivered by experts. Much of our military training has passed on training. It’s like the last person’s holding the slide of PowerPoint slide is going to give the class that was generated in the Pentagon somewhere or some other command. They don’t know anything about it. They just know what’s on the PowerPoint slide, whereas our courses are taught by true experts and they are all passionate. They are experts in their field. They love and care about soldiers and their families. They’ve all been through their own life challenges. They share those life challenges with our students and that’s powerful.

Shirley went through the class and she has a different perspective. She’s one of our heroes. You’ll get to know her strength as she talks but she has gone on and started The Healing Continues. I can’t tell you what an effect that has had on our alumni.

I had the wonderful blessing of getting to attend the course in 2020, when I started working with individuals, sending them to the course. In 2020, I attended the course because I wanted to know, “What am I sending people to? Are we getting our bang for the buck? How are people coming out?” I suspected that it was good. I saw the agenda and holistic stuff. That’s always a win-win. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be life-changing for me.

You will never find a course like this. I talked to the students who attend this. I see their feedback and they all say the same thing over and over again. “Everybody should attend this. It should be mandatory. This is life-changing. It doesn’t matter where somebody was told to go to it or they went on their own. The result is the same.”

I am a civilian with the Air Force. Civilians with the military can go also. That is in the capacity to which I met. I am a survivor of domestic violence. At that point in 2020, nobody knew that was something that I was carrying with me because of embarrassment and shame. You can only imagine the mental trauma and the trauma that I was going through daily but it is through attending the course and doing the hypnosis visual imagery with Dr. Lopez that I came out of that.

OYM Steven | 360 VA Program

360 VA Program: The 360 VA Program is about you. It is not about teaching you how to lead or be more tactically proficient. It’s teaching you how to be a better you.

 

Sharing my story and forgiving myself and the person that had done what they had done to me was up until that point and time in my life, which the domestic violence had happened a couple of years before that. I had been living a life in my past full of pain and anguish that I was covering. We hear these stories throughout the course. One of the things that are intangible from this 360 course is the environment that is produced of love, kindness, non-judgment, “We take you as you are. We’re all here together.”

Life is a process that we go through. We all have experienced things and it’s okay. It is through the course that I see why I have made the choices that I have made. I have learned more about myself and understand myself. As I go out in the world, my approach and interactions with others are different. When I first shared my story in the class, I would cry through the story and could barely make it through but that was July of 2020 when I attended the course. Since then, every course that they have done, I have been a guest speaker and I speak on my story of domestic violence.

In every course, somebody’s heart opens up to help them on this journey. The other thing that is very special about the 360 course is the 360 VA, the nonprofit portion. I’m a groupie for life. I’m a lifelong member. Everybody’s a lifelong member. It is free of charge. They don’t charge you a dime for anything. They don’t ask you. There’s no fundraising. Come as you are. We’re going to love on you and help you through life holistically continue.

Normally, when you finish a course, the course is over. We say goodbye. Maybe you’ll see a follow-up survey. We’ll follow up with you in 1 year or 2 to see how things are going. That is not the case with 360. 360 VA immediately picks you up. It’s a lifelong membership of utilizing the skills that you’ve learned, staying socially and physically connected and continuing on those courses.

Dr. Lopez and Steve can talk more about it but they had a desire to start a group for a while that worked with people who had experienced some trauma because many of the students had experienced trauma or supporting somebody who’s experiencing trauma. It is very empowering. As we know, when you are at a point, you can share your story. I call myself a survivor because I am not a victim. I told the group, “I do not wish this life that I had upon anybody else but the blessing or the lemonade is that I share my story and it helps others.”

We have this group that has been going over years of Healing Continues. Everything is a volunteer. I don’t do it on my own. I’m a person that facilitates but there is a PhD person in there, a psychologist and chaplain. It’s a place where people can know that they’re not alone and share their experiences. We read books, provide support and keep going. There’s nothing like this. It is life-changing for others who attended but from myself, the way that I went in the course was not the way that I came out two weeks later. Forever, I am a better version of myself.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Dr. Hayes, that’s our passion, people like Shirley. Our goal is to make our entire military a better place for every one of our soldiers to serve, grow and lead. We know it can be a better place than it is. We can improve mental health, mitigate the risk of suicide and mitigate the risk of sexual assault and domestic violence and alcohol substance abuse in our military.

How do people find out about the 360 Program? How do people help you promote or expand it?

For the leadership courses, 360-Program.com and then our nonprofit is 360VA.org, where you can donate. Your donation goes towards the services that we provide to our members to include those who lead The Healing Continues program. We’ve got two initiatives that we’re specifically looking for funding for. One is the Gold Star family members. During this time of COVID and we’ve been doing our courses virtual, our Gold Star family members have been able to participate remotely. There’s been no cost. We don’t charge them to participate in that class.

However, as we go back to live courses, there’s going to be a cost associated with travel, accommodation and so forth. We provide course materials in the course itself. We’re looking for a corporate donor to be able to fund ten Gold Star family members to participate in 360 courses in 2022. We’re looking for $36,000 for that.

This is interesting because one of my roles and responsibilities with the courses in San Antonio, where I live, is to sign people up for the class, make sure they’re registered and ready to go. The interesting thing is through the command, we do some marketing and put the information out there. I joined in 2020 and pretty much most of the people come by word of mouth.

Other students within the class before a class is even ready to rock and roll, the attendance roster is at least halfway full, merely from word of mouth of somebody who attended the course. They spoke of it or somebody saw a difference in that person’s life and they’re like, “I want some of that.” Some work sections send their whole staff. “We all need to go.”

The interesting thing also is in one of the roles that I work at, I work with a lot of helping agencies on the installation. This course is so well-favored that in the community between clinical and nonclinical, the clinical portion wants to say, “How can we use 360 course and 360 VA in a nonclinical capacity to facilitate people’s life and holistic healing?” Through that avenue, what also becomes a point of where the marketing happens is that we have all these other tools. You have financial, military and family life consultants and chaplains but another tool in our toolkit is the 360 course. At least I can speak for where I’m at it.

I am thrilled that you’re willing to share this with us. I have several different connections that I’m going to make sure we try to cross-pollinate. Some people I know are in the military and I want to make sure they know about 360. I don’t know how this gets spread out throughout the military if everybody in the military already knows about 360 VA but anything that I can do and I will do, I’ll reach out to a few people in the military and veterans who might have connections. Make sure they get ahold of this, start to learn about it and spread the word.

I appreciate your support, your mission and what you’re doing. It’s important.

Brigadier General Salazar and Colonel Mary Lopez implemented The Soldier 360 Program as the cornerstone of the community’s suicide prevention campaign. The Grafenwöhr Military Community encompassed the German State of Bavaria and comprised 42,000 soldiers, civilians and their family members. Brigadier General Stephen L. Salazar retired on August 1st, 2012 following 36 years of service in the United States Army. He is the Cofounder of Soldier 360 and has been CEO of 360 Inc. since 2013. In 2015, he cofounded and served as President of the 360 Veterans Association.

Dr. Mary Lopez founded the Leader 360 Program with Brigadier General Salazar in 2010 in Germany and continues to work to help build resources to strengthen our active-duty and veteran service members, to reduce suicides and other adverse effects of the stresses and traumas of serving in the military. Dr. Lopez retired from military service after 33 years as an Army officer. She is a Certified Professional Ergonomist and a Licensed Occupational Therapist.

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About Brig. Gen. Retired Steven L. Salazar

OYM Steven | 360 VA ProgramBrigadier General Steven L. Salazar retired 1 August 2012 following 36 years of service in the United States Army.

He is the Co-Founder of Soldier 360 and has been CEO of Three-Sixty, Inc. since 2013. In 2015 he co-founded and serves as President of 360 Veterans’ Association. After retirement in 2012 till 2017, Steve was Vice President, Global Strategic Initiatives for DynCorp International, LLC. He is now President, STV Solutions, LLC. BG (R) Salazar’s last active-duty assignment was as Director, Joint Development, Joint Staff J7. There he led re-engineering of the Department of Defense’s concept development and experimentation program integrating functions of Operational Analysis, Concept Development, Solutions Evaluations and Joint Doctrine to innovate non-material capabilities. While Commanding General, Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC), U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, BG (R) Salazar implemented the Soldier 360 program as the cornerstone of the community’s Suicide Prevention Campaign.

The Grafenwohr Military Community encompassed the German state of Bavaria and comprised 42,000 Soldier, Civilians and their Family members. Responsible for training support for U.S. European (EUCOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM), his principal focus was the training of U.S., NATO, and other contributing forces in support of International Security Forces – Afghanistan (ISAF). The command supported the EUCOM and AFRICOM exercises and security engagement programs with its Joint Multinational Simulations Center and partnered with Israeli Defense Forces and 39 ISAF contributing Nations including, Israel, France, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, and Georgia.

As Commanding General, Coalition Army Advisory Team-Iraq, BG (R) Salazar was responsible for the development of a self-sustaining Iraqi Army. His team advised the Iraqi Joint Headquarters, led Iraqi Army force generation efforts, advised training and logistics programs, designed and built nationwide training and logistics centers and instituted the Iraqi M1A1 Tank Training program. Other assignments include Deputy Commanding General for Training, Division West, First Army, and Commander, Operations Group (COG), National Training Center where he led training of Brigade Combat Teams for deployment during the Iraq “surge”.

He commanded the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq and served at the Army’s Test and Evaluations Command, leading the coordination of the Stryker evaluation program. Born at Fort Benning, Georgia, BG (R) Salazar enlisted Infantry in 1976 and was commissioned Infantry in 1982. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy, US Army War College graduating with honors from the Advanced Strategic Arts Program.

He is a graduate of the Australian Staff College, P.S.C. and was a distinguished honor graduate of Ranger School Class, 3-83. Steve is married to the former, Anna Maria Villalobos, has two grown children and is the proud grandfather of six. His military awards include three awards of the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (3 awards), the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Bronze Star Medal (2 awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (5 awards), and the Army Commendation Medal (3 wards)

About Mary Lopez, Ph.D

OYM Steven | 360 VA ProgramDr. Lopez retired from military service after 33 years as an Army officer. She is a managing partner of Three Sixty, Inc with Brigadier General (Retired) Steven Salazar. She has been offering the 360° Leaders courses since 2010 and has trained over 3500 military leaders. She is a Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) and a licensed Occupational Therapist. In addition to her work with 360°, Dr. Lopez serves on the Board of Directors of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®). She was the Chair, ACGIH Physical Agents Committee and the Chair, ACGIH Board of Directors (2020-2021)

Colonel (Retired) Mary S. Lopez graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. She completed the OT internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC. COL(R) Lopez holds a Master of Health Administration from Baylor University and a PhD in Industrial Engineering—Human Factors and Ergonomics from Texas A&M University. She has held a variety of positions in her assignments at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Letterman Army Medical Center, Fort Ord, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Riley, the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, the Uniformed Services University, and the Office of the Surgeon General, and the Europe Regional Medical Command.

Journey's Dream

Journey's Dream

Used to select this used (Journey's Dream) as Author of the On Your Mind Podcasts