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Author, expert, survivor shares experience with garrison workforce

Jim Davidson, co-author of the book “The Ledge” and a resiliency expert, discusses resiliency and how to work better as a team during a presentation at the Garrison Planning Forum at The Landing June 11. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Jim Davidson, co-author of the book “The Ledge” and a resiliency expert, discusses resiliency and how to work better as a team during a presentation at the Garrison Planning Forum at The Landing June 11. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: June 19, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 19, 2014) -- Fort Rucker is always looking to improve its efficiency, whether it’s the best way to train Aviators or use resources wisely, and the recent Garrison Planning Forum served as a valuable tool to help the installation improve its workforce.

The forum, held June 11-12 at The Landing, was part of a strategic planning process by which the installation can continually access how the workforce is doing and improve where needed, and attendees included garrison headquarters leaders, directors and division chiefs, said Cynthia Ranchino, Fort Rucker Plans, Analysis and Integration Office lead plans specialist.

“Based on our Army Communities of Excellence feedback report, this forum was designed to take the garrison leadership through an assessment and focus on the areas that needed improvement,” she said. “We took them through an explanation on how the garrison operates as an integrated management system, and then demonstrated where we had weaknesses and how we needed to improve on those.”

This was achieved through a series of engaging exercises that the attendees participated in to address opportunities for improvement based on the last ACOE feedback report, said Ranchino.

Some of those areas included leadership and team resiliency, leading a diverse workforce, encouraging health and wellbeing, sustaining performance excellence and developing a workforce engagement system.

One of the main points of the forum was to focus on workforce resiliency, which was achieved through presentations by Jim Davidson, co-author of the book “The Ledge” and a resiliency expert.

“The area of resiliency is a huge focus in the Army right now, and it’s a very important area because we’ve all be operating at a very high operational tempo without ever taking a look at the impacts of that,” said Ranchino. “What Jim Davidson brought was not just his message of resilience, but how we can take what he has learned and apply it back, not just from a personal standpoint, but from a business operations standpoint.”

Davidson is no stranger to resiliency, having survived a near-death experience, during which he and a fellow climber had fallen into an 80-foot deep glacial crevasse.

Despite having all odds against him and no one to help him, he managed to pull together and rescue himself by climbing out of the crevasse to save his own life.

Davidson’s presentations echoed a message of teamwork, leadership and perseverance.

“You have to look inside yourself for the reason to keep trying,” he said during his presentations. “If what you used to do doesn’t work anymore, you have to try something different to make some progress.”

It’s because of his experiences as a climber that he was chosen to talk at the forum on the topic of resiliency, said Ranchino.

“Mr. Davidson has the unique ability to translate his hard-won insights and experience to provide practical tips and compelling lessons on perseverance, engaged teamwork, leadership, tenacity, and resilience to a diverse audience,” she said. “These skills are imperative to our workforce in order to thrive during times of increasingly constrained resources and high operational tempo.”

Along with lessons on resiliency, panel discussions on topics such as encouraging heath and wellbeing, and sustaining performance excellence were held with garrison leadership, including Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, Justin O. Mitchell, Fort Rucker deputy commander, Command Sgt. Maj. William Lohmeyer, garrison command sergeant major, Col. Jeffrey Dill, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center deputy commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Leeford Cain, CRC/SC command sergeant major.

One of the primary focuses of the forum was developing a workforce engagement system, which was handled by Duane Soumis, workforce development program manager for Fort Campbell, Ky.

“Soumis guided the leaders in starting the development of action plans to address some human resource concerns that the installation is facing,” said Ranchino.

The feedback from the forum has been positive, and Deena Jones, PAIO director, said events like the Garrison Planning Forum are necessary to sustain excellence.

“We had the commitment of the garrison leadership, and a lot of that commitment falls into play on whether we can sustain the efforts that we have going on and provides focus for the organization so that we know the path that we’re headed down.”

This article was originally published at

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