Health screenings; adequate sleep, activity, nutrition vital to Soldier readiness

By Maj. Lakisha Flagg, Army Public Health Nurse, U.S. Army Public Health CommandMay 1, 2014

Women's Health Portal
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Every day, Soldiers and leaders are reminded of the importance of Soldier readiness. Readiness is essential to the success of the force, and it is one way to ensure that every Soldier is fit-to-fight at all times. Maintaining technical and tactical proficiency is critical to readiness, but without good health, Soldiers are incapable of functioning at the level necessary to succeed in their profession. Health screening helps service members to prevent illness and to stay in good health.

May 11--17 is National Women's Health Week. While male and female Soldiers share some basic health requirements for readiness, female Soldiers require health screenings that are unique to the health of women. These requirements include cervical cancer screening, also known as the Pap smear or Pap test, and breast cancer screening. These tests provide women with the opportunity to detect diseases, such as cancer, in the early stages, often before symptoms occur. By making sure that routine cervical cancer screenings are completed, women can help increase the likelihood that abnormal findings are detected and treated early.

Breast cancer screening is another way to detect cancer early on and to ensure that breast cancer is detected in the early stages. Like most cancers, breast cancer is easiest to treat when is detected early, and early detection improves the chances that this cancer can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated successfully. More information about women's health and health screening is available on the U.S. Army Public Health Command's Women's Health Portal at

In addition to these health screenings, female Soldiers should also consider the three critical components of personal health when working to enhance their readiness. These components are sleep management, activity and nutrition.

Although these are basic actions that are sometimes taken for granted, they are essential to readiness. Routine physical activity will not only improve readiness but it can also reduce stress, strengthen the heart and lungs, increase energy levels, and improve mood. Quality nutrition and sleep management are equally important as they promote overall health, help prevent disease and help achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. When these critical components are missing, female Soldiers are at an increased risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. We think better, feel better and perform better when our bodies are well nourished, well rested and healthy.

The Army surgeon general, a woman, has developed the Performance Triad to educate not just female Soldiers, but all Soldiers and retirees, their family members, and Army civilians about how quality sleep, activity and improved nutrition can help us all reach our full potential.

More information about the Performance Triad and how to improve readiness through it can be found at

Related Links:

U.S. Army Public Health Command

Women's Health Portal