APFRI shutting down, services covered by others
October 27, 2011
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 27, 2011) -- An organization that supported Command and General Staff College students is gone, but there are similar services students can find on Fort Leavenworth, post officials say.
The Fort Leavenworth annex of the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute was cut earlier this fall along with its parent program at the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and another satellite at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Dr. Tom Williams, a retired colonel, is director of the program.
"We are in the process of transitioning employees to other programs, and we are in the process of shutting down the operation," he said.
Williams said he was told the program is being eliminated as a result of federal Department of Defense budget cuts for 2012. He said one reason for the organization's closure is that Soldiers can receive similar medical assistance through Army Medical Command, Installation Management Command and other service providers.
The program was at CGSC for four years. The Army War College program operated for almost 30 years.
APFRI provided comprehensive, personalized wellness assessments to about 2,000 Intermediate Level Education students each year. Exercise physiologists, nutritionists and psychologists and other health experts provided one-on-one consultations. Its focus was on teaching future Army leaders how to manage physical and emotional health, with an emphasis on cardiovascular fitness.
"What we were really doing was a leader development program," Williams said. "It focused on helping educate leaders about their responsibilities as leaders and how to mitigate stress and the impacts of multiple deployments on both themselves and those they lead."
Tom Weafer, director of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program for CGSC, said the services that APFRI provided still exist on Fort Leavenworth, just not in one place and not to the same level of personalized attention. He said Medical Department Activity and Fort Leavenworth Garrison are working with CGSC to make some of these services more easily accessible to students.
Weafer said news of APFRI's closure was a surprise, and up until August CGSC students were still planning to sign up for APFRI appointments.
"APFRI was a support element, a major piece of our Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, which will be difficult to replace," Weafer said.
Educational programs APFRI offered, for example, taught CGSC students about sleep deprivation in a combat environment and how important sleep is to learning. APFRI also offered a comprehensive running shoe clinic. Those classes are not offered elsewhere, Weafer said.
Soldiers can get a regular annual health assessment at Munson Army Health Center or make an appointment with a primary care provider if they have medical concerns. Nutrition and exercise counseling are also available through referral.
A primary care provider can refer Soldiers, spouses and retirees to a weight-loss management program, Army MOVE! In this program, patients take a class focused on healthier lifestyles. A nutritionist, a behavioral or mental health care provider and a physical therapist are involved in the program. It is intended only for adults who are overweight.
"We try to help the patient make that healthier lifestyle change," said MAHC nutritionist Marcy Sedwick.
Patients can also take Army MOVE! classes for four weeks every Tuesday at 8 a.m., and MAHC is adding an afternoon session at 2:30 p.m. The class is also available through Army Knowledge Online. For information about Army MOVE!, call 684-6170.
MAHC treats acute or chronic behavioral health through Community Behavioral Health.
Col. David Bitterman, MEDDAC and MAHC commander, said CGSC may see increased services and better access to services in the future.
"We're actively working with Mr. Weafer and the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program to expand our services," he said.
At Gruber Fitness Center, anyone who is eligible to use the facility can get a fitness evaluation. The evaluation consists of a fat caliber test, body measurements and weight, and a three-minute step test for cardiovascular endurance.
"It lets you know how de-conditioned or conditioned you are," said Jeff Honey, outdoor recreation manager for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "It gives a personal trainer a pretty good indicator of what you are capable of when you first start out on an exercise program."
Matt Price, physical fitness specialist at Gruber, said there are also personal trainers available for $35 an hour or $25 for a half hour. The facility has many aerobics and fitness classes available as well.
"If anyone wants to be shown how to use the cardio equipment, we can also help them out with that," he said.
Williams said that although APFRI is closing, he's seen how military senior leaders are committed to ensuring service members and their families have the right programs to maintain health, fitness and readiness.
"Since APFRI expanded to CGSC as part of the Army Leader Development Program initiatives, the one thing that was always evident is how committed the CGSC leadership has remained to the health and welfare of their students and their families," Williams said. "APFRI has been honored to have been a part of this effort, and we look forward to helping ensure our lessons-learned and findings help inform the leadership and other programs about the components of our program that seemed to resonate so effectively with the CGSC students, staff, faculty and their families since 2007."