The Future of Resilience in the Military


Resilience is all about being able to function at an appropriate level in any situation with which you are faced, says Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD, DARPA Biological Technology Office. For the military, the idea of resilience differs from the civilian world, because a person’s community or support system is in a state of constant change. When in the theatre of war, a service member’s community is his or her unit, we members return home, their families become their beacon or focal point. Whether at home or in theatre, resilience can be built through preparation and training in mind, body and spirit– which is guiding the future of technology in military medical research.

Preparedness Leads to Resilience

Building resilience in the military requires service members to be prepared for all that they will face physically, spiritually and morally according to Dr. Ling. This mental preparedness is developed through training: the foundation of how service members learn within these various military communities.

“A prepared mind is really one of the most important things.” -Dr. Geoffrey Ling

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Geoffrey Ling - BMH

“There’s an old saying in the military…train like you fight; fight like you train.”

–Dr. Geoffrey Ling

Repetitive and consistent training leads to preparedness in combat. The same tactic can be applied to everyday life, because the more often a person encounters a certain situation, the more familiar they are with the outcomes and will know how to react to them in a way that is in line with their beliefs.

Morality and the Future of Technology and Military Medical Research

Dr. Ling believes that being prepared morally for the harsh conditions in the theatre of war helps service members when they come home. If service members are trained to stay true to their belief system,  it helps them to do their job in a way that honors themselves and which they can be proud of when they return home. Future technology training tools need to incorporate this facet to fully prepare service members.

“I’d say that’s the biggest gap area in research in technology right now: How do you put the things in it that we all value; the morality, the ethics, the belief system.”

 Training in Mind, Body, and Spirit

Understanding morality within the context of war and in the function of military life is a standing challenge. In efforts to help service members prepare for and heal from traumatic occurrences, the military is incorporating more mind-body therapies into its medical care and training. This can help with increasing performance and post-war difficulties like moral injury, which is caused by disconnect between actions of war and a person’s beliefs, causing a rift between their mind-body and spirit.


Samueli Institute recently launched to bring together the evidence behind integrative medicine, explore the implementation of mind-body practices in standard care and discuss how the role of the brain and the mind in health and resilience can positively impact the future of our healthcare system. Be sure to visit the site.