Army Wellness Center Focused on Health

By Janice Erdlitz, Lyster Army Health Clinic Public Affairs OfficerOctober 22, 2020

Improving health and fitness across the force remains a top priority for Army leadership. Army Wellness Centers (AWC) provide programs and services that improve and sustain health, performance, and readiness of the Total Army delivered by highly trained health professionals.

The AWC at Fort Rucker provides free primary prevention programs and services that promote enhanced and sustained healthy lifestyles to improve clients’ overall well-being. “The tools and education provided by AWC give Soldiers the skills they need to maintain readiness,” explained Maj. Dorma Sanders, Chief of the Fort Rucker Department of Public Health at Lyster.

AWC is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and a professional staff that run a variety of assessments and tests, and provide client-centered health coaching and educational classes to help create an action plan to better health and performance. The AWC approach is holistic, taking into account all of an individual's physical, psychological, and social circumstances to meet individualized goals in both health and fitness.

David Virgil, Supervisory Health Educator at the Fort Rucker Army Wellness Center explained, “One of the keys to living a healthy lifestyle is taking inventory over where we are currently. The AWC’s assessments allow clients to know where they are in their nutrition, fitness level, body fat percentage, stress, and overall lifestyle habits. Even the healthiest person might need to make some improvements. Before setting those goals, it’s important to know where you are so that plans align with where you want to be.”

Poor sleep, activity, and nutrition behaviors are associated with the top challenges to Army readiness. Personal health readiness links to appropriate sleep, activity, and nutrition. Soldiers can leverage these simple behaviors to optimize their performance.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has created stressful dynamics for many people. Finding ways to reduce stress is important to one’s health. The AWC can help persons learn to better manage stress and find ways to mitigate stress triggers.

Virgil explained, “We’re currently facing unprecedented times. With so many things going on with COVID and society in general, managing how we deal with stress is imperative to our overall well-being. The key to beating this stress is by having a “toolbox” of coping strategies that we can employ at any time. The Army Wellness Center’s Individual Stress Management sessions allow us to help our clients do just that. These sessions allow us to identify our client’s current stress levels and assess what stress management techniques work best for every individual.”

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When clients visit the AWC, their encounter is documented in their electronic health record. Their medical provider is integrated into their wellness plan, has the ability to give direction and oversight to the wellness center, and is able to follow their patient's progress.

The Army Wellness Center model is different from the standard medicine model, rather primary prevention services are provided to prevent disease and create an overall healthy lifestyle to improve the health of our population. Since the Army Wellness Center is part of the Preventive Medicine Department and integrated into the Patient Centered Medical Home, sick leave may be applied towards wellness appointments which includes all services (assessments, coaching, and classes). All clients are encouraged to take time to ensure their well-being and future health.

Referrals for AWC services can be made by medical providers or unit commanders; however self-referrals may also be made and are always welcome, although it is best to schedule an appointment in advance to ensure preparation guidelines are adhered to. Unit commanders can also call or stop in to schedule unit assessments, group health coaching, educational classes on site or at their location since most of the equipment is portable.

Individual Services include:

·        Health Coaching: Goal setting and overcoming barriers for success.

·        Metabolic Testing: Calculates the amount of calories needed to help you meet your goal.

·        Exercise Testing and Prescription: Assesses current fitness level to plan for improvements.

·        Individual Stress Management Sessions: Measures stress levels and teaches coping techniques.

·        Body Composition Analysis: One of the most accurate assessments of body fat available.

Classes Offered include:

·         Upping Your Metabolism: Improve body composition and increase metabolism with very simple behavior changes.

·         Stress Management: Learn about the impact stress has on your health, even if you may not feel stressed. Manage your stress and improve your focus and energy.

·         Healthy Sleep Habits: Learn about the science behind sleep and the importance of sleep in performance. Explore methods and resources to achieve better quality sleep.

·         Performance Optimization: Learn how to train for the ACFT optimally and safely.

·         Fueling for Health: Learn the fundamental components of nutrition

·         Meals in Minutes: Discover ways to eat well even when on a budget or short on time

“Another important change that has just occurred with the Army is the implementation of the Army Combat Fitness Test. We understand that training for the standards may be stressful for some people that are not accustomed to training in a new manner. Therefore, the Army Wellness Center has designed a class geared towards teaching Soldiers not only how to train for the test, but how to do so safely. Leaders can call us to schedule a time for us to come out to their units to teach this very information class,” remarked Virgil.

The Army Wellness Center is located at 4102 Gladiator Street, Building 4102 and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., closed for lunch 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Wednesday hours 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. You can keep track of upcoming classes and events by following on Facebook @fortruckerawc.

AWC Programs and services are available to Active-Duty Soldiers/Reserve/National Guard, Dependents, Military Retirees, and Department of the Army Civilians/Department of Defense Civilians.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, class or group health coaching reservation, call (334) 255-3923.