SAN ANTONIO (May 2, 2013) -- Get fit. Eat better. Feel better. Be better.

Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. is back. The largest Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation campaign of the year pushes Soldiers, their families, and Department of Defense civilians to focus on Balance, Activity, Nutrition, Determination and Strength -- to get up, get out, get busy exercising, eat better and commit to a healthier lifestyle.

The U.S. Army Installation Management Command program began May 1, with 71 locations participating during the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month of May. Locations Army-wide will promote programs and activities that support Soldier and family resilience and encourage individual fitness.

"Strong-Ready-Resilient Soldiers, Families and Communities" is the theme of the 2013 Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. campaign.

Several wounded Soldier-athletes in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Paralympic Program personify the third-annual Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. campaign: Team USA sled hockey goalie Sgt. Jen Lee, archer Staff Sgt. Steve Bosson, swimmer Spc. Elizabeth Wasil, and sprinter Sgt. Jerrod Fields. They are the poster Soldiers for the 2013 Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. campaign.

Each participating location can select at least three fitness activities or events it chooses to implement.

"They pick a minimum of three events that they want to highlight," Strong B.A.N.D.S. coordinator Carole Herr explained. "We're not asking them to create new programs -- just to highlight existing programs to help generate extra buzz and participation in a class or program that already exists."

This program takes "Army Strong" to a whole new level. In 2012, more than 29,000 Army customers participated in more than 200 Strong B.A.N.D.S. events around the world. Eighty-eight percent of the garrison program managers reported that the campaign energized members of their communities and encouraged them to make healthy lifestyle choices. The same group unanimously agreed that a good time was had by all participants.

"We at Fort Huachuca love putting on fitness activities," said Leslie Woods, chief of Sports, Fitness and Aquatics at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. "The added emphasis of May being the National Sports and Fitness Month just further encourages folks to get out and move for recreation. It's the best time of year to be outside in southern Arizona."

The timing of Strong B.A.N.D.S. is perfectly aligned with increased beach-body awareness at U.S. Army Garrison Camp Darby in Livorno, Italy.

"As you may know, we are a very small base and our community operates in a different way than larger bases," Camp Darby fitness specialist Ken Owen said. "This is a tightly knit 'family' community that really comes together to participate in all the incentive programs we deliver. As it begins to warm up, Strong B.A.N.D.S. programming and May really bring out the energy to cheer for the opening of the pool. And, really, to get the beach body back."

Much the same sentiment echoes across Italy.

"The Strong B.A.N.D.S. program intensifies U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza's values and commitment in being healthy, strong, fit, and ready for action," said John Hamilton of the U.S. Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy. "At the end of the day, we are Soldier-athletes first and foremost. And our desire is to take performance to the next level."

The drum promoting Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. beats just as loudly in Germany.

"Strong body, strong mind," said Patrick Kabuye of Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports and Fitness in Ansbach, Germany. "Ansbach is participating because we believe in the benefits obtained by engaging actively in the health and physical fitness realm."

The Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. is a popular program both overseas and at home.

"Our Garrison is participating because our patrons love it," said Leflora Barlow, community activities coordinator at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma. "We also work with the Child, Youth and School Services to get our children involved in getting and staying fit. Last year, we took the rock wall to the school care service for them to have a chance to climb on the wall. They really enjoyed it. This event brought our sports department, equipment issue facility and the school care services together for the event."

This time around, the folks at McAlester plan to implement the swimming pool.

"This year, we are looking at other programs for CYSS and also involving our aquatics (outdoor pool) in the event," Barlow said. "We are looking forward to another successful year."

In proclaiming May 2013 as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, President Barack Obama wrote: "With simple steps, all of us can make physical activity a way of life. This month, we recognize Americans who are choosing that future for themselves and inspiring others to do the same.

"We also take this opportunity to renew the call to action. I encourage business, faith, and community leaders to uphold physical activity as an important way to enrich our neighborhoods. I call on schools to make good health and exercise part of a good education. And alongside our friends and family, let each of us recommit to leading a healthy, active lifestyle, and setting our children on the path to a bright future."