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October 12, 2017

Military Has Lessons for Dealing With Stress, Says Pitt Alumnus, Army Reserve Sergeant

When the stress of life gets to be too much, School of Law graduate Matthew James Marcello (LAW ’16) believes that there are lessons people can use in managing anxiety, adapted from those taught to soldiers coping with deployment and war.

Marcello, a sergeant in the Army Reserve whose specialty in psychological operations took him to Afghanistan in 2013, will be teaming with local licensed professional counselor Michelle Steimer to present “Calmer Conversations: How to Talk with Someone Experiencing Anxiety” on Oct. 19, 2017, from noon-1 p.m., in the William Pitt Union’s Kurtzman Room.

“Calmer Conversations” is the latest in a series of presentations formed in 2015 by the mental wellness task force of the University Senate’s benefits and welfare committee.

In his nine years with the Army, which included training Afghan forces, Marcello discovered that the military’s master resilience training is an effective tool for coping with the many stressors of deployment.

“We’ve got a lot of lessons learned through the military, and being in prolonged war, that have surpassed the civilian side” of knowledge, Marcello said. And the military has come a long way from demonizing the overstressed soldier as weak, instead today viewing them “as someone who has an issue which can be fixed. That shift across the entire spectrum of mental health has been very helpful to soldiers going through a crisis.”

Those on military duty, of course, are concerned about staying safe, but they also can become stressed over many issues that affect us all, from frictions at work to family relations and finances. Master resilience training, “in my experience, has been able to de-escalate the situation down to the level where a person feels in control,” Marcello said.

In his solo law practice in Oakland, he encountered a client whose stress over their legal situation was off the charts. That’s when Marcello realized that master resilience training can also help civilians. “I work with people at their most vulnerable and typically at their most stressed in life,” he noted. “So I used the technique I had learned” in the Army. “It was so very effective.”

He and Steimer — also an Army veteran and a major in the Reserves — will give Pitt faculty and staff some of the master resilience training tools needed to cope with the anxiety of everyday life.

Steimer, who has offices in Washington and Waynesburg, Pa., “is the expert on the subject,” Marcello said. “She is amazingly knowledgeable in the field.”

Event Details

“Calmer Conversations: How to Talk with Someone Experiencing Anxiety”
Presented by the University Senate Committee on Benefits and Welfare
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017
Noon-1 p.m.
William Pitt Union, Kurtzman Room
No registration is required, and the event is open to the University community.


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859


Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 4

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