Fort Bragg opens doors to new wellness center
Sarah Fewell and Sarah Guin, health educators at the Fort Bragg Army Wellness Center, explain how the Bod Pod is used to determine body density and the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat mass.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - What does cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease have in common' According to the World Health Organization, they're the preventable problem children of the 21st century. Take away tobacco, inactivity, unhealthy food and alcoholism and there's little to fuel our most common causes of disability and death.

Fort Bragg joined the unofficial 'be your best self' campaign with the grand opening of a new Army wellness center on Nov. 4. Motivated by the motto 'prevention is the best cure,' the center's staff teaches the community to value mental, physical and emotional fitness.

"The mission of the wellness center is to promote, enhance and sustain healthy lifestyles and the health and well being of our Soldiers - not only our Soldiers but our Family members, our retirees, as well as our Department of the Army civilians," said Brig. Gen. Tim Adams, commander, Army Public Health Command, in his speech at the opening ceremony.

"Soldiers who are optimally fit and healthy will be more resilient and ready to withstand the rigors of military life," explained Adams. He added that the wellness center is an excellent resource for Soldiers who might be struggling to maintain a certain fitness level.

The new wellness center offers free services such as comprehensive health assessments, physical fitness testing and workout plans, personalized nutrition menus, stress management techniques (including biofeedback games and a massage chair), general wellness education classes and tobacco cessation support.

Lieutenant Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, praised a team of Soldiers and civilians for finishing the first-class facility ahead of schedule and under budget. From conception to completion, the timeline hovered around nine months according to Helmick, who previously oversaw the opening of a wellness center at the Installation Management Command (Europe) in Vicenza, Italy.

Helmick thanked Adams and Col. Brian Canfield, commander, Womack Army Medical Center, as well as Todd Hoover, OCONUS Army wellness center director, Army Public Health Command. He called Hoover an "encyclopedia of fitness," before upgrading that title to the "Internet of fitness" as the crowd laughed.

"If you want to know anything about fitness - cardiovascular, biofeedback, (anything) that happens in that building, talk to Todd and he will dial it up in his brain and come out with the right answer," joked Helmick.

European installations currently support five wellness centers. As Fort Bragg's population (active duty, dependents, retirees and Department of the Army civilians) increases to 55,000, the command hopes to install satellite facilities to meet the ongoing health needs of the Fort Bragg population, said Helmick.

In America today, the swelling numbers of 'weighty' adults is placing a greater burden on our understaffed, overworked health care system according to health officials. Two in three American adults fall into the category of overweight or obese. Hoover, who works with Soldiers and their Families throughout Europe said, the military population mirrors the general population in terms of weight gain.

Physical health is only one aspect of the larger issue. According to the World Health Organization, for an individual to be whole, or balanced, he or she needs to be satisfied in seven key areas - physical, social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational and intellectual. These seven dimensions of wellness, by way of our interconnectedness, define the overall health of military Families and the Army community.

The Fort Bragg Wellness Center uses a variety of clinically and scientifically based machines to accurately define measurements like body fat count and the daily calories burned through breathing alone. Scientific accuracy is important, notes Hoover, because people tend to under report their caloric intake and over estimate their levels of physical activity.

"People don't know that when they went out to IHOP or Cracker Barrel, that meal had 1,800 calories. Now metabolically, if you only need 1,900 calories per day, you've just spent (your daily allotment)," said Hoover.

"In a way, the wellness center is like a garage that you would bring your body in for calibration. When you come in, we take the (test results), we lay it out objectively - here's the data, what's your goal, well this is how you need to calibrate it," Hoover explained. Creating individualized meal and exercise plans will allow people to target their problem areas and set solid, personal milestones. This creates a happier, more successful client.

The Army Wellness Center is committed to promoting enhanced and sustained healthy lifestyles for the Fort Bragg community. The center is located at 2-2015 Jackson St.

For an appointment, call 643-2101, or contact the clerk, Ona Siddle, with general questions at

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16