By Whitney Delbridge Nichels, Warrior Care and Transition May 18, 2017
As summer approaches, many people are keeping a close eye on their physical health. The many reasons span from building stamina for "fun in the sun" activities to wanting to look great on the beach.
But for Army personnel, staying physically fit is a top priority year-round.
Every six months, Soldiers must complete the Army Physical Fitness Test, designed to assess their muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular respiratory fitness.
Soldiers are scored based on their performance in three events: push-ups, sit-ups and a two mile run (alternate events are available for those who are unable to run). Scores - which are calculated based upon age and gender - can range from 0 to 100 points in each event.
A Soldier must score a minimum of 60 points in each activity, resulting in a total score of 180, to pass the APFT.
Commendably, all of the Warrior Care and Transition staff members who completed their tests in spring 2017 passed.
That includes Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Jordan, who completed the last APFT test of his career.
Jordan will retire from the Army in December with 30 years of service. In that time, he says he's completed around 70 APFT's.
"Staying fit prepares you both physically and mentally to accomplish your mission," Jordan said. "It also helps you remain healthy throughout your life."
Jordan says over the years, he has seen the required standards in each event increase.
He also says for him personally, there were times that completing the test was more difficult than others.
"In 2003, my left leg was wounded in combat, and I was unable to conduct PT for almost a year. After I started working out again, it was very hard for me to get back to where I wanted to be with my fitness," Jordan said.
For many Soldiers, the goal is to pass the test, while others aim to exceed the basic requirements and beat their previous scores.
So far in 2017, Lt. Col. Annie Cichocki and Maj. Susan Hopper are tied with the highest number of points for women in WCT. They each achieved a perfect score of 300. For the men, Maj. Andrew Bochat achieved the highest score of 294.
"Maintaining our physical fitness is important to all of us," Hopper said. "For me, it is foundational in how I take care of my mental and physical health overall. Plus, I like food so it allows me to have a treat here and there."
While the tests provide a baseline for Soldiers' overall physical abilities, Jordan says unit leaders should not stop there when developing a comprehensive fitness plan.
"APFT is not tailored to each individual soldier. Leaders should have a plan to ensure that all Soldiers receive physical training in all areas and in different forms to make sure they are fit and able to accomplish their mission, especially in combat," Jordan said.
As he prepares for retirement, Jordan plans to maintain that commitment to fitness the Army has instilled in him over the years.
"Statistics show that my rank - Command Sergeant Majors and Sergeant Majors - have a high mortality rate within the first 7 years after retiring. I take those stats very seriously and will do everything that I need to do to stay healthy and beat the odds."