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Boxer Hosts Mental Wellness Expo

Story by Chief Petty Officer Justin Webb

USS Boxer (LHD 4)

Facilitators provided health and wellness information and presentations on common issues [related to military service] and new techniques for Boxer Sailors to maintain operational readiness.

Boxer’s Chaplain Department and Deployed Resiliency Counselor, Mr. Andrew Mauldin, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), organized the event that included speakers and presenters from Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) and Naval Center Combat & Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC).

“In the highest possible stress environments, Navy SEALs and Marine Corps snipers, learn to regulate the energy in their body for maximum readiness and performance. In the same way, Boxer Sailors can focus their attention to restore themselves,” said Ran Wittry, a facilitator for NMCSD. “Our purpose was to help the crew to focus as they do on missions and combat readiness and then translate those same mental focus skills into resiliency training.”

This was Boxer’s first time hosting the expo. Approximately 140 Sailors, ranking from E-1 to 0-6, attended the event and completed a survey to gauge the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the crew of approximately 1,000 Sailors.

“I don’t expect this to be some kind of earth shattering thing where the heavens open up and out comes all this knowledge, light and wisdom,” said Cmdr. Wayne Haddad, Boxer command chaplain. “This is just an idea, not to train, but to expose the crew to something a little bit different.”

Sailors aboard Boxer were exposed to techniques such as: heart-focused breathing exercises, guided imagery, mantra repetition and yoga.

“What I took away from this training is that, pausing and doing the breathing exercises is a good tool to calm yourself before you wreck

yourself,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman Ayana Murray. “Being tense is common for me, and they had strategies like yoga that may help relieve tension in your body, that ultimately leads to relieving stress from other parts of your life.”

“Based on the feedback from Boxer Sailors, it sounds like the need is there,” said Mauldin. “So, I requested that we do more events like this aboard.”

According to Mauldin, mindfulness is a well-documented and researched tool for managing stress and mental wellness, so Boxer is partnering with the Mind, Body Medicine program from NMCSD and NCCOSC to potentially develop a curriculum tailored to Boxer’s needs.

Boxer currently utilizes the Deployed Resiliency Counselor and the Chaplain Department for one-on-one stress and mental support. The expo was the beginning of planned future events and trainings.

Boxer is currently in its homeport undergoing a phased-maintenance availability.

For more news from USS Boxer, visit http://www.boxer.navy.mil

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