By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneAugust 27, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- As both a government entity and an employer of a 37,000-member workforce, Redstone Arsenal and its tenants are on the front line of the Army's commitment to ensuring a ready and resilient workforce among civilian employees.
And now, thanks to the Army's renewed emphasis on community health standards for all its installations, Redstone leadership is ready to take a stand for employee public health.
Redstone's Community Health Promotion Council was officially launched during a Friday meeting at The Summit led by Redstone senior commander Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, Garrison commander Col. Bill Marks, Fox Army Health Center commander Col. Dave Carpenter and Team Redstone health promotion officer Michael Dake. The members of the new council are a who's who of leadership among the Arsenal's major tenants.
McQuistion told the group that, although the Army has promoted community health principles at its installations for years through its Garrison organizations, the idea of a Community Health Promotion Council and the programs it implements has varied among Army installations. In fact, only a few members of the new group at Redstone indicated they were familiar with the purpose and programs of a Community Health Promotion Council.
"That clearly defines where we are in the Army's experience in deployment of this concept," she said.
"I've been the senior commander at five installations and at each one it was necessary to stand up a Community Health Promotion Council. But we never had the resources dedicated to it to ensure were doing (community health promotion) to a standard. We set it up at every installation based on whatever metrics were available to us and important to the Army at that time."
Now, as the Army has provided a more standardized approach to the community health promotion concept, Redstone can help to lead the way in establishing a Community Health Promotion program that addresses primarily the health needs of Army civilian employees, she said.
At Redstone, the wellness of the workforce has long been addressed by the Redstone Board of Directors as part of its overall management of the installation. That responsibility will now fall under the Community Health Promotion Council.
The purpose of Redstone's Community Health Promotion Council is four-fold: to ensure strategic integration of public health programs at the employee level; to provide an umbrella approach for coordinating public health programs through the Garrison, medical community and tenant operations; to provide a mechanism to raise public health issues and give commanders the flexibility to balance readiness and quality of life within their workforce; and to ensure the efficient management of health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention initiatives.
The council will evaluate Redstone wellness needs, assess existing programs and coordinate health programs addressing the five dimensions of strength. It will act through its work groups to implement and promote health education activities to raise individual and community awareness; behavioral health interventions to improve psychological health and reduce self-destructive behaviors; physical programs directed towards achieving optimal physical wellness; spiritual programs to foster spiritual awareness and enrichments; and environmental and social programs that promote and sustain healthy lifestyles, and health work and living spaces.
"Public health is normally a function of local governments while employee health is a function of corporations and companies. As an employer organization and a government entity, the Army is at the intersection of employer-based wellness and local government-based public health," Dake said.
And because of that, the Army, he said, has a role in both arenas to provide community health programs that address the wellness of its employees. In support of that, Redstone's Community Health Promotion Council will oversee employee wellness through five working groups: Behavioral Health, chaired by Dr. David Ferguson, Fox Army Health Center; Environmental, Financial and Social Resiliency, chaired by Derrick Gould, director of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation; Health Promotion and Education, chaired by Minetta Williams, Fox Army Health Center; Physical Fitness, chaired by Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Kyle Crump; and Spiritual Resiliency, chaired by Garrison chaplain Lt. Col. Gary Payne.
The Council's work groups are tasked with identifying all health needs, health programs, and potential gaps and redundancies so that health promotions can be optimized, Dake said. For example, in the area of physical fitness, the work group will look at things like how many gyms are on post, what types of equipment are provided at each gym and what types of exercise classes are offered. In the area of spiritual fitness, the work group will look at the types of religious services that are provided on post for different age groups, what types of religious programs are offered throughout the year and what types of faith-based support groups are sponsored by the chapel. In the area of health promotion and education, a community resource guide will be published that provides information on the Arsenal's wellness programs.
The Community Health Promotion Council is "a working council. Work groups in the five areas execute action plans. The council, which includes representatives of various installation groups like retirees, non-commissioned officers, spouses and junior enlisted Soldiers, reviews these plans critically and ensures they are moving towards the goals" to improve and increase the health of the workforce, Dake said.
Although the Army leadership has developed a number of metrics for the Ready and Resilient campaign, each installation must implement those standards with wellness programs and activities that meet the needs of its own workforce, whether they are Soldier or civilian, Dake said.
"The goal is to understand the population, assess its needs, set priorities, identify and eliminate redundancies, and reduce gaps," Dake said. "Is each installation pursuing health promotion and wellness? The goal is to integrate health promotion and wellness throughout the installation, and broaden the scope so that resources are available to everyone."
Through the Community Health Promotion Council, Redstone leadership will be bringing the concepts of the Army's Ready and Resilient campaign to a civilian workforce.
"The goal is to have the entirety of the Army to be ready and resilient," Dake said.
For the Army, Ready refers to the ability to accomplish assigned tasks or missions through resilience, individual and collective team training, and leadership while Resilient refers to the mental, physical, emotional and behavioral ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow from setbacks. The Ready and Resilient Campaign integrates and synchronizes multiple programs to improve the readiness and resilience of the Army family.
The Army Materiel Command has a stake in the Community Health Promotion Council beyond Redstone Arsenal, said McQuistion, whose primary duties as the deputy commander of AMC also places her as senior commander of Redstone.
AMC's peer organizations -- the Forces Command and the Training and Doctrine Command -- are also conducting health promotion operations throughout their formations and on the installations where they are the senior command. As AMC matures the Redstone Arsenal program, it will partner with the Public Health Command to establish a Health Promotion Project Officer to coordinate with and assist the Health Promotion Officers assigned to Redstone Arsenal and in support of AMC's subordinate commands at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois; and Detroit Arsenal, Michigan.