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Reservist institutes 'Moving Forward' classes

Technical Sgt. William Pryor

Technical Sgt. William Pryor

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- The pilot week of 'Moving Forward' behavioral health classes at March ARB ended in success July 24. The classes were held on a by-request basis for one week, with instructor Tech. Sgt. William Pryor traveling to classrooms across base to teach subjects that included anger management, stress management and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). 

Tech. Sgt. Pryor is a Police Officer for the County of San Diego and an Airman and Family Readiness reservist at March. He holds a Master of Arts in Sociological Practice and has written a book about non-traditional community policing practices. 

Tech. Sgt. Pryor himself has struggled with anger and stress and has learned some valuable tools for managing his behaviors. Sharing these tools and resources was his primary motivation in creating the 'Moving Forward' curriculum. 

"We're setting the standard for doing an in-house, on base program," Pryor said. 

The 'Moving Forward' classes are held each UTA weekend but Pryor wanted the classes to be available to the large number of March personnel who are only on base during workdays. 

"I've been teaching up to three classes a day and each class has been about two hours," Pryor said. "We've been getting a good turnout, positive feedback and people are excited. People are realizing 'Whoa, I've been waiting for this for the last fifteen years.' That shocked me. I had no idea how needed these classes were going to be." 

The classes focus on teaching the signs and symptoms of problems and suggest different tools and resources to change their behaviors. Pryor observed that many of his students are shocked to learn the physical effects of anger and stress. 

"They don't recognize the internal breakdown as far as the development of ulcers, cardiovascular and respiratory problems; being sleepy, not being able to sleep. Another symptom is that we begin to recognize this as a way of life. But it's not. It's just a behavior that can be changed." 

During the classes, Tech. Sgt. Pryor educated students on an emerging form of psychological abuse: workplace bullying. In his job as a police officer, Pryor has recently gone into workplaces to take reports of people feeling threatened because they are being harassed in this manner. 

"Workplace bullying is any kind of harassment or threatening that's done in a way without targeting areas such as race, sex, gender, religion. The bully goes around those to stay out of hot water." 

The bullying is a perverse tactic that perpetrators use to gain control, lash out, or seek revenge. Anger management can help prevent this type of bullying. 

"Bullying in the workplace has been looked at for a long time, but now, there are lawsuits being filed. Companies are putting it into policy that there will be absolutely no bullying tolerated," Pryor said. "It brings down the morale and productivity of the company and the whole organization begins to suffer." 

The 'Moving Forward' classes use a practical approach to teach students to aim the large amount of energy contained in anger and stress in the right direction. 

"I don't have all the answers," Pryor said. "The class isn't about that. It is a forum for people to be able to discuss anger and stress," Pryor said. 

Having good communication skills is crucial when dealing with stress and anger management. Tech. Sgt. Pryor recommends using concrete, simple words instead of long drawn-out stories and analogies. 

"Part of us being able to de-escalate a situation involving suffering, agony, pain, or hurt or discomfort is allowing for someone to communicate in the way they actually think it through themselves," Pryor said. 

"If you're not really communicating what you feel and what you thought about something, you're pretty much letting go of your emotions and saying whatever you think you should say. You're not thinking about the consequences and effects it may have on that person or their family or their children when they go home." 

The PTSD class encourages students to seek professional help for treatment. "It's not something a person can get through with willpower alone," Pryor said. "The class is going to begin to allow people to see that things that have happened to them, things that they've shoved under the rug, or they've put on the back burner, may still be affecting them." 

The continuation of the weekday classes will depend on budget and demand, but the UTA classes are during both A and B UTA weekends. The classes are open to March reservists, civilians, 

The continuation of the weekday classes will depend on budget and demand, but the UTA classes are during both A and B UTA weekends at building 441. The classes are open to March reservists, civilians, contractors and families.