WASHINGTON -- The oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army is paving the way for the Army's new effort to improve dining facilities, which are known as DFAC.

The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is now giving more Soldiers healthier food options and greatly increasing the use of its facility.

Under the leadership of Colonel Jason Garkey and Command Sergeant Major Scott Beeson, the facility is now used seven days a week and utilized by all members of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community, including sister-service Honor Guard elements serving at Arlington National Cemetery.

It provides an outlet for young Soldiers to relax and get a quality meal while also giving leaders a place to engage their Soldiers in a comfortable setting. The Old Guard is using the DFAC to conduct newcomers' briefs, host leader development meals, and celebrate key calendar events such as the recent Army birthday.

By promoting and establishing innovative ways to use the DFAC and reach out to junior Soldiers, The Old Guard has seen dramatic results in morale and usage. Monthly DFAC Counsel Meetings, scheduled movie showings, and new equipment, based on Soldier feedback, have all had a direct impact on the steady increase of utilization rates and patron support. The facility also offers free Wi-Fi.

A key influence, and probably the most easily overlooked, is the advertisement of calendar events, specialty meals and daily menus. Across The Old Guard, appealing, nutritious menus are posted in high-traffic areas such as in the barracks and company areas, and are also emailed out to leadership to ensure maximum use.

The Old Guard is taking these steps because of a review of food services conducted by the Army G-4 and TRADOC Joint Culinary Center of Excellence (JCCoE). The review, part of the overall Army Health Initiative, is geared toward giving Soldiers healthy and convenient food choices to increase individual fitness readiness.

This new strategy ensures that menus and recipes are designed to enhance a Soldier's cognitive and physical performance through consistency, reliability and quality food products at the right time, location, and convenience to enhance the readiness.

Ultimately, the DFAC provides a key location that serves as the heart of communication and camaraderie between Leaders and Soldiers.