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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 12, 2024

Meet the Integrated Primary Prevention Program

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Staff

The Integrated Primary Prevention (IPP) program is launching its active-duty volunteer Resilience Coordinators (RC) initiative, with the first iteration available to units of 100 or more members. TRACEN Petaluma is hosting the first 5-day Resilience Coordinator and Unit Education (ResCUE) training from June 10-14, 2024. TRACEN Yorktown will host the next 50 selected RCs from July 8-12, 2024. Graduates who complete all training requirements will become the Coast Guard’s first-ever RC cohort. Seats for both classes are full, but interested parties can join the courses’ waiting lists.  
MyCG spoke with Dr. Felicia Garland-Jackson, IPP program manager, to learn more about the program's work and the critical role RCs will play in shaping service culture.  
MyCG: What is Integrated Primary Prevention (IPP), and how will it impact the workforce?  
First, it’s important to understand what primary prevention is and its mission. In the world of prevention, there are actually three different levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. The goal of primary prevention is to stop harmful behaviors before they occur. The secondary and tertiary levels are for response efforts, meaning they assist after the harmful behavior and/or event has already happened.  

For the last few decades, in both the military services and greater society, stakeholders and program personnel have traditionally focused on secondary and tertiary prevention, establishing laws, funding, staffing, and resources. However, with time, it became clear that while these response-level efforts are important in taking care of our people, these efforts did not reduce the amount and/or frequency of harmful behaviors.  

As I mentioned, IPP efforts center on stopping harmful behaviors before they occur. We do this by building population-level protective factors that mitigate risk factors or stressors that may lead to harmful behaviors. We accomplish this through policies, outreach, activities, education, and programming designed for the Coast Guard members, civilians, and their families. The aim is to build protective factors that increase individual’s overall well-being and their ability to thrive in climates based on dignity and respect.  

Primary prevention is based on prevention science with a couple of important takeaways. One, it is easier to build a positive behavior than to stamp out a negative one. That’s an easy one most folks can imagine in their own lives. That’s why IPP focuses on the positive by building positive behaviors that increase protective factors like strong economic security, solid connections, inclusivity, physical fitness, stress management skills, healthy eating, etc. 

Second, many harmful behaviors share the same risk and protective factors, which is why IPP is mandated to produce efforts that work across the harmful behaviors. For example, if someone is starting to feel disengaged and/or isolated in a unit, IPP’s concerted efforts through outreach, programming, education, or activities can reach out to re-engage that person and assist them in avoiding harmful and/or negative behaviors, such as coping through alcohol misuse or perhaps even moving into suicidal ideation. These efforts may include climate improvements like efforts to build cohesion, improve interpersonal communication skills, and increase one’s sense of belonging.  

IPP programs are designed to foster a culture of upstream prevention that promotes positive behaviors while increasing population-level knowledge and understanding of interpersonal relationships (empathy, effective communication, etc.), help-seeking behavior and other protective factor building opportunities.  

By focusing on these shared factors, the Coast Guard’s approach will also foster healthier command climates, leading to enhanced readiness and a greater ability for Service members to execute critical missions. 

MyCG: What prompted the Coast Guard to invest in IPP efforts?  
The Coast Guard requested that the Department of Defense (DOD) include the Coast Guard in the DOD’s IPP Instruction published December 2022. Then, following the Commandant’s Directed Actions – Accountability and Transparency Review, the Coast Guard expedited planning and resourcing to scale implementation of USCG’s IPP program to be modeled after DOD’s IPP. 

MyCG: What are Resilience Coordinators (RCs)?  
RCs will be the unit’s wellness advocate and focus on “upstream” prevention. They are a local access point for science-based gold-standard information and referral, and they will help members get the right information to address potential challenges and/or where to seek expert assistance when needed.  

It’s important to note that they are not experts in health, physical fitness, or disease; qualified to design or implement plans or programs; nor able to diagnose, prescribe, or provide therapeutic interventions for their fellow Coasties. Nor are they “downstream” responding to harmful behavior and/or events after they have occurred, though they will be knowledgeable of available resources.   

MyCG: What kind of training do RCs receive?  
Each RC selectee will attend a week-long ResCUE training. The curriculum was specifically developed for the Coast Guard and will be delivered by the Uniformed Services University Health Services, Consortium of Healthy and Military Performance (CHAMP). The CHAMP instructors will teach evidence-based modules on physical fitness, nutrition, sleep hygiene, primary prevention, stress management, tobacco cessation, and other health and well-being related areas.  

MyCG: I know RCs are a collateral duty. What does serving as an RC entail?  
RCs collaborate with commands, the Office of Work-Life (CG-1K1), IPP staff and other stakeholders on educational, programming, and activity opportunities that proactively build and strengthen protective factors and resiliency among the members at the RC’s unit.  
Each RC’s outreach activities can be tailored to serve their unit needs. If a unit is deploying to northern Alaska, the RC can provide information and support resources prior to deployment on nutrition, sleep hygiene and stress management, so members are better prepared for the long cycles of day or night in their new environment. 
Data and intentionality are key components of IPP, and we are really excited that data collected from the entire workforce through the RCs will help inform the IPP program’s direction. RCs will report their activities, which informs the demand signals and areas of interest or local stressors they’ve collected from their shipmates. This information will help IPP in resourcing and intervention strategies to get ahead of potential harmful behaviors.  
MyCG: How has the response been to the RC program? 
As of the closure of the application window on May 24, 2024, IPP has filled all 100 seats in the first two RC training sessions, and we currently have a waitlist for people who are interested in attending a ResCUE training. If you were planning on applying, please continue to submit your applications. You will be on the waitlist for the first two sessions, but your applications will help us understand the training demand from the fleet. 

MyCG: Aside from the RC program, what other important projects is the IPP program working on? 
In addition to the RC program, IPP is developing a number of efforts to help support the total workforce. First, we have Operational Stress Control (OSC150), a 150-minute extracted skill-building version of the Operational Stress Control course, which is in limited release now awaiting its full evaluation product approvals. In OSC150, participants learn ways to recognize stress in themselves and others, stress effects on the body, self-directed techniques to manage one’s stress, and most importantly, where and when to seek help if needed. OSC150 follows evidenced-based foundational elements that help increase resilience and overall well-being. Also, IPP staff have recently taken over Wellness Wednesday, and began restructuring the program to provide actionable tools and skills to the workforce. So, please take the time to tune in on Wednesdays, view the recordings, or send recommendations about what you’d like to hear about to