Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. -- Todd Hoover, Army Wellness Center Operations program manager, Army Public Health Center, visited Rock Island Arsenal's fitness center and health clinic in search of a new location for an Army Wellness Center, July 6.

Commanders and civilian leaders from across the island have pushed for a wellness center to be established at RIA for over a year. Hoover said his first step is to complete a feasibility study and cost analysis. His visit represented the first on-the-ground step to bringing an AWC to RIA.

There are 29 AWCs worldwide. Hoover said his organization's goal is to eventually build 37 AWCs.

"Wellness Centers focus on primary prevention, and they're staffed by health educators who have backgrounds in allied health fields like exercise physiology, nutrition, and psychology," he said. "Basically, they are trained to provide health coaching."

Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command and the senior mission commander of RIA, places the health and well-being of RIA personnel as one of his top priorities. Lt. Gen. Michael Tucker, commanding general, First U.S. Army, has also expressed his support.

Hoover said AWCs are very beneficial.

"They provide testing to help individualize health prescriptions for people, and then they partner with the community to help clients execute their suggested lifestyle changes," he said. "The benefits of a wellness center are that the services are free, and they have a strong impact on helping people to improve their behavior to be healthier."

AWCs focus on six core programs, according to their website (see related links below).

1) Health assessment review includes risk stratification, wellness questionnaires and biometric screening.

2) Physical fitness includes exercise testing and exercise prescriptions.

3) Healthy nutrition includes metabolic testing, weight management and healthy nutrition education.

4) Stress management includes education and biofeedback.

5) General wellness education includes healthy lifestyle habits and wellness coaching.

6) Tobacco education involves tobacco-free living classes and advising.

After examining several possible rooms around the RIA Health Clinic, Hoover said he is optimistic that the project will be feasible. He said the next step is to complete the cost analysis.