The man behind setting up the Defence Academy’s Joint Stress and Resilience Centre (JSARC) has been made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the recent Queen’s birthday honours list.
In the last year over 1,300 people have been on one of the stress and resilience courses established by Squadron Leader Pete Vaughan who wanted to create a centre that focused on the causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how to prepare people to tackle these, rather than just deal with the symptoms.
“The JSARC is about helping people understand the indicators and effects of stress, and to provide the tools for coping with stress and increase resilience,” explains Pete.
“There were lots of groups involved in the delivery of operational stress management so the focus was on trying to deal with the effects of stress after the incident, yet there seemed very little as a preventative stance to build psychological resilience in our personnel.
“The aim of JSARC is to enable people to better cope with day-to-day challenges and to prepare them to better withstand and recover from any stress that can’t be avoided in the first place. In the military context this could be life-threatening scenarios such as war-fighting operations, or supporting humanitarian relief. But stress is also there for everybody in everyday life, such as managing the volume of work, priorities and deadlines, and personal pressures around finances, relationships and a work-life balance.
“Psychological awareness/resilience is as important to a civilian and the commercial domain as it is to military personnel and the military domain.”
Indeed it is the importance on people that makes JSARC so different.
“Our people are our most important strategic assets,” says Pete. “We therefore believe that stress and resilience training needs to be provided to educate our personnel in the ways that stress can be managed and our output, in all environments, optimised. We believe that our managers and commanders play a vital role in this process and think that psychological ‘fitness’ is as important to the Armed Forces as physical fitness. We also think that Defence as a whole, including our Civil Servant community, benefits from a joint training centre that focuses on developing psychological resilience training.”
For somebody so passionate about the JSARC, Pete is surprisingly lost for words about receiving an MBE for his achievement.
“I was absolutely speechless when I found out,” admits Pete. “I’m extremely honoured to be nominated for an MBE, let alone actually being awarded one, and I really appreciate that the Defence Academy saw fit to put me forward for such an accolade in recognition for what was a team effort.
“We all knew how difficult it would be to achieve, but we all understood how it would benefit others. And it’s reassuring to see that the centre is continuing to grow at a fantastic rate. Knowing that I had a part to play in the development of that capability is priceless and the memory will live with me forever.”
Squadron Leader Pete Vaughan is one 108 UK service personnel to be granted a state honour on this year’s list for his time as the Officer Commanding the Joint Stress and Resilience Centre at the Defence Academy.
His citation concludes: “Displaying excellent initiative, boundless enthusiasm and energy, he developed the Centres concept and ensured that every aspect of the project was thought through from governance to academic provenance. He has made a lasting and significant contribution to Defence, creating a world class training centre within the Defence Academy.”