FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 22, 2018) - Soldiers from Fort Benning, Georgia, attended the second annual Atlanta Falcons Human Performance Summit May 18 at the team's training camp in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

Falcons staff members and former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins discussed various topics with the service members such as safety during training, the importance of knowing your players, nutrition, diets, proper sleeping habits, and strength and conditioning best practices.

"I really think the key to longevity is strength," said Jesse Ackerman, the Atlanta Falcons head strength and conditioning coach, during his presentation.

For Capt. David Douglas, the deputy chief of the Fort Benning Human Performance Office, this concept was one of his biggest takeaways from the summit.

"A lot of times in the Army we don't train strength, but we focus on aerobic fitness and our aerobic capacity - 5-mile runs, 2-mile runs, 12-mile ruck marches - it's all aerobic focused with a little bit of muscular endurance but not strength," Douglas said. "I'm glad he mentioned that."

Douglas also cited the importance of sleep as mentioned by the Atlanta Falcons director of sports medicine and performance, Marty Lauzon, who said during his presentation, "We try to teach our guys that sleep is a weapon."

"Sleep is a weapon because you can only perform really, really well and optimally when you've had eight hours of sleep," Douglas said of Lauzon's presentation. "Your sleep not only impacts your ability to metabolize correctly but the ability to make the right decisions and the right moves that impact their lives as athletes and our lives as Soldiers, so I think that was really important that he pointed that out."

Douglas also pointed out the team's use of a wellness questionnaire, a tool they use daily to check in on the players, which helps facilitates dialogue about a variety of topics between the players and the staff while identifying any pertinent issues that may affect the player's performance on the field.

He added the Army's counseling system somewhat mimics this but is not as in depth.

"Every day you should be having a conversation with your Soldiers because it establishes that rapport, it identifies problems, and it offers you a good opportunity to solve that problem for that Soldier," Douglas said.

Overall, Douglas was glad to attend the summit and hopes to continue to partner with the team on future events.

"I got a lot out of it, and I definitely think it's beneficial for us to come yearly," Douglas said. "It gives us a different way of viewing things because we typically don't view Soldiers as athletes, but we should because what we do as maneuver Soldiers - infantry, armor guys- we've got to move. We've got to be agile. We've got to be adaptive, and we have to be strong and athletic. We've got to think those ways."