WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 29, 2010) -- Commanders charged with addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of Soldiers and families have a new "tool" that focuses all available installation resources on those needs.

The Health Promotion Coordinator Program provides trained professionals to synchronize installation health and wellness programs. The coordinators are assigned to garrison support staffs, but are hired and trained by the U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional).

"Our goals are to make the community aware of health and wellness resources and - through installation Community Health Program Councils - to ensure that we all work together on issues such as suicide, substance abuse, financial problems, and marital problems," said Jo Huber, heath promotion coordinator at Fort Campbell, Ky.

At Fort Campbell, this holistic approach to making services easily available and mutually supportive began in June 2008. Currently there are seven HPCs at continental United States installations (the others are at Fort Lewis, Wash.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Drum, N.Y.), and four more are being recruited. Huber said the hope is to have HPCs at all Forces Command installations by October of this year.

"The program provides commanders with a blueprint for integrating services," Huber explained. "It allows the leadership to maximize their strategic capabilities to drive their public health initiatives for a more mission-ready force."

In plain language, "maximizing" can mean identifying gaps in services, while reducing stove-piping and duplication of effort, as well as harnessing what already exists. The HPC program also stimulates communication and teamwork among the installation experts who provide Soldier and family services.

That was Fort Campbell's experience.

"We found once this process was in place, that it reduced the stove-piping and duplication of effort among different chains of command, Huber said. "At Fort Campbell, we have a very cohesive community with all (the groups) working very closely together."

Huber said flow of communication is one of the biggest benefits that has come from the Community Health Promotion Council.

"The flow of communication of all the programs we have has definitely helped our tactical commanders understand how those programs fit together," Huber said.

She said this understanding allows the programs to help the Soldiers and their families more effectively, and for subject-matter experts to collaborate and better use available resources.

Huber and her HPC colleagues also facilitate working groups associated with the Community Health Promotion Council. At Fort Campbell, the working groups Huber facilitates are incorporated into the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, which targets overall well-being and resiliency. Two working groups, the Suicide Prevention Task Force and Installation Prevention Team, were in motion before the Community Health Promotion Council was created.

"What we have done here is invited those two working groups to be a part of the council, where they actually brief out their initiatives (on a monthly basis) to the community health promotion executives," said Huber.

The health promotion executives are the garrison commander, medical commander and chief of staff. The teams also brief to senior commanders on a quarterly basis.

The Community Health Promotion Councils themselves are part of the Army's Health Promotion program, an Army G-1 proponency.

The councils were first launched by U.S. Army Europe in 1997, in an effort to pull together existing community programs that work with emotional, spiritual and family wellness groups, according to Walter Morales, Army Suicide Prevention Program manager.

Today, Morales said, the CHPC is an integral part of the commander's resources for identifying and mitigating root causes that affect Army family well-being and developing the right services and programs to maintain a healthy fighting and supporting force.

Huber said as the Health Promotion Coordinator Program continues to expand, she hopes the installations will share information with each other, in a continued effort to support the Soldiers and their families.

"I would hope for a sharing of information, across installations, where we can collaborate together in one single effort to help our Soldiers and our families better weather multiple deployments," she said.

(Jessie Maxwell serves as a public affairs specialist with U.S. Army Forces Command.)

Page last updated Tue June 29th, 2010 at 17:27