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By: Sara Croymans

We hear a lot about the concept of resilience in relation to military service members and families. When I think of resilience the concepts of bouncing back or overcoming adversities come to mind. Resilience may be thought of as a trait, a process or an outcome (Southwick, Bonanno, Masten, Panter-Brick, & Yehuda, 2014). It has been reported that each military branch has its own definition of resilience. One such definition adopted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Heath and Traumatic Brain Injury and the Institute of Medicine is “The ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands” (Meadows, Beckett, Bowling, Golinelli, Fisher, Martin, Meredith, & Chan Osilla, 2015).

A 2011 RAND report, Promoting Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Military, defined psychological resilience as “the process of coping with or overcoming exposure to adversity or stress.” Through an intensive literature review several evidence-informed factors for promoting psychological resilience on the individual, family, unit, and community levels were identified. (Meredith, Sherbourne, Gaillot, Hansell, Ritschard, Parker, & Wrenn, 2011). The identified factors included:

  • Individual level factors – positive coping, positive affect, positive thinking, realism, behavioral control, physical fitness and altruism.
  • Family level factors – emotional ties, communication, support, closeness, nurturing, and adaptability
  • Unit/Organization level factors – positive command climate, teamwork and cohesion
  • Community level factors – belongingness, cohesion, connectedness and collective efficacy

To continue the conversation about resilience, OneOp Family Transitions, Family Development and Network Literacy teams invite folks to participate in the August Resilience Webinar Series. This groundbreaking webinar series brings together three pre-eminent resilience theorists and researchers, Dr. Ann Masten, Dr. Froma Walsh, and Dr. Michael Ungar, to share insight on addressing barriers, identify various systems and promote protective factors to support individual, family and community resilience. Participants will engage with these influential facilitators and each other to practice resilience thinking and learn how to apply the principles in their work. Learn more about the webinar series and RSVP at



Meadows, Sarah O., Megan K. Beckett, Kirby Bowling, Daniela Golinelli, Michael P. Fisher, Laurie T. Martin, Lisa S. Meredith, and Karen Chan Osilla, Family Resilience in the Military: Definitions, Models, and Policies. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015.

Meredith, L. S., Sherbourne, C. D., Gaillot, S. J., Hansell, L., Ritschard, H. V., Parker, A. M., & Wrenn, G. (2011). Promoting psychological resilience in the US military. Rand health quarterly, 1(2). Retrieved from

Southwick, S. M., Bonanno, G. A., Masten, A. S., Panter-Brick, C., & Yehuda, R. (2014). Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: interdisciplinary perspectives. European journal of psychotraumatology, 5(1), 25338. Retrieved from

This material is based on work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense Award Number 2015-48770-24368.

Writers Biography

Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, member of the OneOp Family Transitions team, military spouse, and mother.