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Warrior’s Edge stress training free to COVID-19 first responders for 2020

Spc. Latorris Thomas, Senior Airman Serena Nicholas and Airman first class Akira Tanton of the Illinois National Guard check patient names multiple times as they prepare to administer a coronavirus test to a first responder in a vehicle Thursday, March 26, 2020 on the Northwest Side. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
April 08, 2020

Compete to Create, a mindset and leadership course platform, is offering its “Warrior’s Edge” training course, designed for military members in high-stress positions, free to first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus fight.

“Due to the international COVID-19 crisis, Compete to Create is offering the Warrior’s Edge digital curriculum FREE to any COVID-19 first responders, including military and medical professionals on the frontlines serving their communities around the world,” Compete to Create said in an emailed statement for American Military News. Those first responders can sign up for the course at Compete to Create’s Warrior’s Edge website and the course is available for free through Dec. 31, 2020.

The course was originally envisioned as a method of training mental skills among incoming and outgoing military service members.

“It is imperative to prepare our military with the mindset skills to not only fundamentally transform their individual lives post-duty, but to function as mental pre-hab in preparation for the necessary physical and mental stressors of active duty,” the statement added.

The “Warrior’s Edge” course was formed by retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and Lt. Col. Dr. Jannell MacAulay. MacAulay earned her Ph.D. while she was still in the Air Force and she focused her doctoral research on studying the human mind’s reaction to stress and how to maintain top mental performance in difficult situations.

MacAulay found that those in constant high-stress situations are regularly activating their sympathetic nervous systems, which can create “maladaptive coping mechanisms” as well as an increase in other concerns affecting veterans, such as PTSD, depression, suicide, and domestic violence.

Through her research, MacAulay developed a training method for teaching some of those mindset skills and helped implement some of those training techniques with a special operations wing before she left the Air Force.

After leaving the service, MacAulay paired her research with the Compete to Create, a leadership platform created by Dr. Michael Gervais and Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll. They developed Warrior’s Edge as a training platform for geared for members of the military community. The focus was to help those in regular high-stress situations with the military initially in mind, but also for first responders.

Now, with the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, the minds behind Compete to Create decided to extend the training to first responders, without any cost, reasoning that the training can be a valuable resource in the effort.

“What we are finding is that that is the new front line. That is the warzone we have today,” MacAulay told American Military News. “This high-pressure environment, that line has been brought to the homefront and it’s our medical professionals that are dealing with it and we have a resource that we built with Warrior’s Edge that already exists, that’s already built to help people train their minds to operate in these environments. We want to give that and pay that forward for those that need it most right now.”

She added that now is a particularly good time, with the ongoing coronavirus, for those in high-stress professions to develop the mental skills needed to handle the present health challenges as well as future challenges that may arise.

MacAulay said the program is modeled off of various different exemplars of high performance under stress, including warrior cultures. She said, “There’s really no hacks or secrets to that. Most of them are just the same as us, they just have a mental framework that was set up differently or trained in a way that has helped them reach that level of success.”

The program is available in an eight-week-long training class. The classes are broken down by week and each week’s classes are designed to build on the ideas taught in the previous week. MacAulay described the course as including five key elements: self-discovery, mindfulness, mindset skills, psychological framework and recovery from high-stress situations.

MacAulay described the human mind as working well in the framework of what she called “mental time-travel,” including planning for the future and productively reflecting on the past. But she warned that as the mind becomes more stressed it those forward-thinking abilities turn towards developing catastrophic narratives about what could happen or struggling with regret over the past.

She described the mindfulness pillar of the training as a key tool to help those in high-stress environments perform well in the immediate tasks before them, rather than getting stuck in those “mental time-travel” moments.

MacAulay also stressed the importance of mental recovery as part of her curriculum.

“Most people think that ‘if I only had four hours of sleep at night and I plug away and I’m in the hustle, that’s how I can be successful at lie’ and what we found is that’s not the pathway,” MacAulay said. “You need those recovery principals. How you sleep, how you eat, how you move, how you think, how you laugh and connect. Those are valuable for individuals in how we ultimately show up and perform at our best.”