By Monica K. Guthrie, Fort Sill media relationsApril 5, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla. (April 5, 2018) -- Editor's note: This is the continuation of a series discussing Fort Sill's advancements in Healthy Army Communities and the Community Strengths and Themes Assessment.
Obesity. Poor diet. Lack of fitness. High blood pressure. Tobacco use.
These were the top five physical health-related concerns affecting Fort Sill according to a survey conducted postwide at the end of 2017.
"There is always room for improvement, and after Fort Sill conducted the Community Strengths and Themes Assessment, senior installation leaders have a better idea of where to start," said Lisa Martinez, community ready and resilient integrator for Fort Sill.
Martinez said the assessment was designed to capture the "pulse" of the community's feelings on quality of life, health, safety, and satisfaction within the Army installation. The assessment is required by Army regulation and allows all members of the community to participate, to include Soldiers, civilians, family members, and retirees. In some areas Fort Sill received positive feedback while in others the results showed survey responders desired more of the installation.
"In areas of perceived health, Fort Sill fared well," Martinez said. "More than 60 percent of those who took the survey viewed themselves as somewhat fit or very fit. The same amount were satisfied or very satisfied with their direct, professional, working relationships on the installation.
However, the survey also showed more than half of those asked believed stress, and alcohol and drug abuse were the areas of most concern for behavioral and emotional risk on the installation. So some were good and some were not so favorable, but that's OK. We want to know what our community thinks."
To address the issues in the survey and to establish a foundation for lasting change, Fort Sill created a council comprised of senior leadership and representatives from installation organizations. These representatives are subject matter experts on topics, such as behavioral, physical, and spiritual health. According to an information paper, the group, called the Community Health Promotion Council (CHPC), is the senior commander's executive agency, overseeing all health promotion and wellness programs.
"Each member of each working group, and the CHPC itself, is a representation of service members, family members, staff agencies and civilians," said Col. Todd Wasmund, Fires Center of Excellence chief of staff and chair of the CHPC board of directors. "Each group has a unique perspective because they are experts around that issue. They make an assessment of the needs of the community and they make recommendations on how to meet those needs to reduce risk in the community. The more diverse perspectives we have, the better we are able to meet the needs of the community."
Many key members also participated in the Healthy Army Community summit where leaders worked to find creative solutions to promote healthy living across Fort Sill and the surrounding communities.
One solution presented was to improve the playgrounds on the installation. Those changes were quickly worked on to help allow family members to engage in physical fitness activities in a safe environment with their children.
"It's like trying to turn the Titanic in the middle of the Mississippi River. It takes a lot of effort and time from many community members to make the CHPC process work to benefit Fort Sill," Martinez said. "The Community Strengths and Themes Assessment and the Health Army Community Summit are just two of those pieces."
Wasmund said the council not only focuses on service members, but also their families, Department of the Army civilians, contractors, and the surrounding community. The council is tasked to assess current methods of supporting healthy living in addition to addressing potential areas of weakness as highlighted by the survey.
"We don't want to gloss over the 'bad parts,'" Wasmund said. "It's important to be honest about areas we may need to improve on. This is all about improving the health and welfare of the community through healthy eating options, fitness options, and changing the health culture of the Lawton-Fort Sill community."
Author note: Follow along for the next installment of this as we dive into the results, starting with physical readiness concerns. Find out what you, the community, said was the good, the bad and the ugly of Fort Sill.