By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
An Army Master Resiliency Trainer for several units in the southeastern region of the U.S., who is from Crossville, recently returned from Altimur, Afghanistan and thanked local businesses and supporters of the program.
U.S. Army SSG Ryan J. Horony's job consists of working with and providing counseling to soldiers who have been wounded and also those who are having problems with the stress of dealing with combat. The program is new and only a few Master Resiliency Trainers have been stationed in active combat areas. The mission is to identify and treat the problems of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in early stages before the soldiers have serious problems.
"There are a lot of problems with suicides right now (in the military) and what we are trying to do is identify those who might have problems in a proactive approach," Ryan Horony said.
Horony said that in Afghanistan he acquired a building where he was stationed at his forward operating base in Altimur. Horony said he wanted to make the environment more comfortable for the soldiers who needed to stay in the building for the training.
"It's not very welcoming or comforting when the walls are all solid white and it looks like an insane asylum," Horony said.
Horony has served in several tours of combat.
Horony's father, Alexander J. Horony, military outreach director in Tennessee of Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve (ESGR) came up with a plan to involve the Crossville and Cumberland County community and presented the idea to put care package supplies together for the soldiers who needed treatment in his son's training program.
Several businesses in the community rallied to support the cause.
"The support we got was incredible," Alexander Horony said.
Alexander Horony served as the point of contact for the project through the Tennessee Career Center where he works as military outreach director.
Items needed for the project included bedding, sheets and pillow cases, pillows, towels, washcloths, toiletries, soap, razors, toothbrushes, deodorant, eyedrops, mouthwash, candy, magazines and a projector for a laptop computer for Power-Point presentations.
The supplies were for 20 soldiers and their rooms in the building.
"With these supplies donated through these businesses, I was able to take these rooms and this building and make it seem more like home and more comfortable and ordinary. That means a lot when you're out there in combat," Horony said. "I can't tell you how much it means to me and what we were able to accomplish with this program."
Alexander Horony said Wal-Mart assembled the required items for the kits and reduced the prices for the items. Staples provided the projector at a reduced price and donations from the support of Cumberland County Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1015 and employees of the Tennessee Career Center and others in the community made the project possible.
Also attending the event was Alexander Horony's other son, Derrick, who is an MP with the National Guard. He has also served in combat in Iraq.
"We've all seen combat and have taken these training classes. It helps with the transition from Army and combat life back to civilian life. A common problem with family back at home is that as a civilian they just can't understand the things we've seen in combat. And the family members can't explain to us (soldiers) how much they worry and the stress that goes along with us being deployed," Ryan Horony said.
He said the training serves as a way to promote positive communication.
"This program is so new that a lot of people haven't even heard of it. It also works well for soldiers who are injured before they are sent back home or are sent back into combat. We have to make sure they are ready and give them the mental tools for coping with the problems," Ryan Horony said.
Horony said he attempts to get the soldiers to "find the good things in life."
"I try to get them to change their mentality. To hunt for the good stuff in life. It works to a degree, but I also know when to send for professional help and get a doctor involved," Horony said.
Horony, who is now back in the USA will be in Texas for a while, but hopes to be back in Crossville permanently before too long.
The group recently gathered at the Tennessee Career Center to thank those who supported the program and made it possible.
Horony presented all of the businesses with certificates naming them honorary resilience training assistants.
"We couldn't have done it without you and we appreciate what you've done more than you will ever know," Horony said.
Horony said the program is continuing in Afghanistan and the same classes are also being taught in the states as required training, but are only given a couple of hours every quarter.
"I'd like to try and get them increased, but not as a mandatory thing. I want them to want to take the training and that's something we're working on," Horony said.
Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III said he appreciated Horony and his service and congratulated him on the program on behalf of the city of Crossville.
Ryan Horony also gave a special thank you to his father, Alexander Horony, for putting everything together.
"I may have put it together, but it was all of the people of the community who supported this program and came together and made this possible," Alexander Horony said.