Wellness Assessment and Education Program
What is it?
The Wellness Assessment and Education Program is the Army’s answer to help with mental and physical readiness and with professional development. Programs at the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute (APFRI) provide fitness and health assessments, identify at-risk leaders, provide effective interventions and gauge leader readiness for worldwide deployment in the contemporary operating environment. In October 2006 the Combined Arms Center identified the need to assess and evaluate the health and fitness of mid-career–level commissioned officers attending the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), and directed the development of a “proof-of-concept” proposal to help guide determinations of the nature and scope of a program for executive health and fitness integrated into a leadership development program. In December 2006, the center reinforced the need to bring an APFRI program to CGSC students. In July 2007, the Chief of Staff, Army, directed the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) to expand the mission of the APFRI with the development of PFRI Annexes as part of a comprehensive education and wellness program linked with professional military education (PME) to enhance leader readiness and sustainment.
What has the Army done?
Over the past two years, the APFRI conducted pilot assessment programs to identify operational fatigue risk factors in over 1,220 of its students. These assessments exposed risk factors that will have to be addressed as part of any effort to strengthen and enhance Soldier readiness and our long-term ability to sustain the force. The leadership recognized that increasing percentages of students have had multiple combat zone deployments. The senior leadership of the Army invested more than $105,600 in the assessments for 2006 more than $271,600 in those for 2007.
Future costs for this expanded program in terms of equipment, personnel, and program are estimated at $3,900,000 in 2008 and $3,500,000 each year thereafter. Personnel and equipment requirements for the expansion of this program have been identified. Position descriptions have been written for all 55 new Civilian positions (and one military), and equipment and facilities are being aligned to support this initiative.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army plans to identify and assess mid-career officers (commissioned and warrant) and senior enlisted leaders currently attending PME and exhibiting potentially modifiable health risks in order to help them understand the linkage of their mental and physical readiness with their professional development. This assessment will allow the APFRI to provide effective assessments, interventions, and follow-ups, especially for those leaders targeted in high-risk groups at each site. The program will produce mid-level and senior military leaders with the capability to maintain optimum health and fitness in a stressful operational environment. These assessments and interventions will also yield guidelines for determining and tracking the overall health and fitness levels of military leaders, current trends, the extent of operational fatigue, and the readiness of leaders for worldwide deployment. The Training and Doctrine Command has directed the initial increase of new personnel to meet the directive and to commence operations beginning in 2007 and into 2008. The command continues to build the team at the USAWC and the APFRI as resources become available.
Why is this important to the Army?
The Army’s expansion of the APFRI program is a critical leader development program. It helps individual leaders to manage their personal readiness and enhances their ability to influence the complex interaction of leadership, health, and fitness for those they lead. The proposed expansion of APFRI comprehensive wellness and education program will extend the institute’s ability to apply lessons learned from 25 years of senior leader health and fitness programs, and will enhance Army leaders’ ability to sustain readiness in the face of operational fatigue. This expansion will also tend to focus research, programs, and resources on the exploitation of PME to reconstitute, reset, enhance, and sustain operational readiness during an era of persistent conflict.