By Doug Holl, Army Public Health CenterOctober 9, 2019
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Army public health experts from the Army Office of the Surgeon General and Army Public Health Center will be participating in multiple panels and presentations at this year's Association of the United States Army annual meeting and exposition held Oct. 14-16 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.
This is the third year APHC has directly supported AUSA and the first where they have been asked to participate in the popular Family Forum Panels, held Oct. 14-15, and also participate in a Warriors Corner presentation Oct. 16.
APHC experts will be moderating and participating in the Family Forum 1 second panel on Healthy and Resilient Army Families, held from 3 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14.
"This year, as with previous years, our participation keeps growing and we could not be happier," said Laura Mitvalsky, APHC director of Health Promotion and Wellness, who will be moderating the panel. "Our panel includes internal and external stakeholders and represents the medical, environmental, healthcare systems and family readiness - all issues that concern our Army families."
Bringing partners together and developing a shared understanding of what is known about the Army Family is the goal of the panel, said Mitvalsky.
"There are so many resources, services, organizations that are all trying to understand the needs of the Army Family," said Mitvalsky. "A lot of good data already exists but if we keep working in silos, we will keep asking the same population the same questions until they no longer want to complete the surveys that help us better understand them."
Mitvalsky hopes the panel will help the Army's senior leaders understand the importance of Army Family satisfaction with military life and the correlation with retention of the force.
The Healthy and Resilient Army Families panelists consist of Tim Higdon, Army Installation and Management Command Healthy Army Communities, who will discuss how HAC is helping Soldiers and their families make the healthy choice the easy choice; Elizabeth Groover, an Army spouse, who will speak to handling the challenges of a never ending PCS cycle; Dr. Shelly MacDermid Wadsworth, National Academies of Sciences, who will discuss the need for healthcare systems to change with the needs of the Army Family; and John Resta, APHC director, who will talk about the public health efforts to ensure family safety. Mitvalsky will also provide an overview of APHCs Optimize the Health of the Army Family initiative.
Col. Kristen Casto, OTSG director of the Public Health Directorate, will participate as a panelist in Family Forum #3, Housing and PCS Moves, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. -- 11:45 a.m Oct. 15.
"I hope to highlight Army Medicine's commitment to the health and safety of our Army's Families and our continued focus on addressing housing resident concerns about potential environmental hazards," said Casto.
Casto will talk about new Army policies clarifying Army Medicine's role in identifying, tracking, reporting and medically managing Army housing residents who have been affected by environmental hazards. She also plans to talk about the Housing Environmental Health Response Registry, launched in April 2019, which has a goal of linking housing to residents and gathering potential health hazard data, ultimately providing a better understanding of the health effects of environmental hazards and the future needs for health interventions and health education.
"Taking into consideration the hazards and health concerns reported by registry enrollees and patients at healthcare visits, we've developed educational resources for housing residents, Army leaders, healthcare providers, and home inspectors," said Casto. "There are videos, tech manuals, fact sheets, policies, and clinical guidance available -- and located on the Army Public Health Center website for use at town halls, in housing offices, during healthcare visits, and for personal education."
Finally, Dr. Bruce Jones, senior scientist, APHC Clinical Public Health and Epidemiology Directorate, and Todd Hoover, APHC division chief for Army Wellness Center Operations, will help wrap up the AUSA event with a Warriors Corner presentation on the Army Wellness Center Musculoskeletal Injury Reduction Program, scheduled for 2:55 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Warriors Corner exhibit booth.
APHC is currently piloting a program through the Army Wellness Center at Fort Campbell focused on identifying Soldiers at highest injury risk based on Army Physical Fitness Test run time, the leading predictor of active-duty Army injury risk.
"We are working with specific units and the Fort Campbell Community Ready and Resilient Council to identify Soldiers who meet the criteria for referral (men: run time slower than 15 minutes; women: run time slower than 19 minutes)," said Chervak. "These Soldiers are offered AWC fitness assessments to assist with improving aerobic fitness, physical activity, sleep, and body composition."
Hoover said the best client for an AWC is a Soldier who is not meeting Army fitness test performance standards. Those with low or high body mass index plus poor run times are the highest risk populations. These individuals are the majority at risk for musculoskeletal injury, which account for more than 69 percent of all cause injuries in the Army.
Musculoskeletal injuries and related conditions led to an average of 37 limited duty days per injury, said Jones. This translates to 2 million medical encounters across the Army annually and an estimated 10 million lost training days due to limited duty.
Mitvalsky hopes APHC's participation in these AUSA events will help draw attention to APHC's Healthy Army Families initiative.
"To best serve Soldiers and their Families, we want to develop a rich collaboration between as many agencies as possible," said Mitvalsky. "This interdisciplinary coordination will allow us to more holistically understand how to improve quality of life for our Soldiers and their families."
Individuals and organizations interested in collaborating with APHC should contact them at 410-436-2303.
A full schedule of AUSA events and programs can be found at http://ausameetings.org/2019annualmeeting/.