Keeping Soldiers healthy is the mission of the Wellness Assessment and Education Program
October 7, 2007
CARLISLE BARRACKS, Pa. (TRADOC News Service, Oct. 5, 2007) - Today's United States Army is the best trained and best equipped Army in the world. Our Soldiers train to fight and win our Nation's wars. The Army Wellness and Education Program is making sure our Soldiers are physically up to the challenge that faces them in the Global War on Terrorism.
At the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute (APFRI) studies Soldiers at all levels and gauges the fitness readiness of our Army. The expansion of the APFRI will better prepare individual leaders to manage their personal readiness and enhance their ability to influence the health and fitness of those they lead.
"This program identifies the risk factors of individuals as they begin to age and how we link the understanding of health, fitness and leadership," said Col. (Dr.) Tom Williams, the director of the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute at the Army War College. "This will help reduce the some of the operational fatigue that we recognize will come into play as individuals repeatedly go into a combat deployment time after time."
APFRI has been one of the most highly rated programs at the Army War College and has already been credited by participants as saving the lives of mid-career and senior leaders.
The Wellness and Education Program will expand the program already taught at the War College to start with annexes at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), Army Management Staff College (AMCS), Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC) and the Warrant Officer Course (WOCC).
"Many of our students at the War College have suggested starting the Wellness and Education program earlier in Soldiers careers," said Williams.
APFRI has already completed assessments on the health and readiness by testing over 1,000 students at the Sergeants Major Academy and 220 students at the Command and General Staff College and through the testing that these two populations have a greater risk of heart disease and risk premature death than the older students at the War College.
"The pilot tests of APFRI have shown the ability to export the program throughout the Army Educational System, but more importantly the need to export it," said Williams. "This gives us the ability to sustain the force by taking advantage of the professional education year to maintain the optimum health and fitness of Soldiers."
The Wellness and Education program will educate senior leaders on their own health and fitness and enhance their mental and physical readiness. By better preparing the senior leaders, it will trickle down to promote the health and fitness of the forces they lead.
"The senior leaders are invested in not only the professional military education, but also how important leadership, health, fitness and readiness is to the individual Soldier and unit," said Williams. "We want to make sure that Soldiers who have had frequent deployments are better able to take advantage of the military educational requirements by being more physically fit and mentally ready to obtain and retain the information."
After initial pilot testing, over 91 percent of the CGSC and 95 percent of the USASMA students reported that the health and fitness information they received was above and beyond the level they had received in the past. Additionally, 91 percent of the CGSC students rated the APFRI program as critical to the CGSC mission.
"It is a testament that our senior leaders recognize that when we ask a great deal, we give a great deal," said Williams. "It is a tribute to their recognition of the benefit that can be derived as one of the top rated programs at the Army War College."