FORT EUSTIS, Va. – Building holistic fitness is the U.S. Army’s primary investment in human performance. U.S. Army Training Doctrine Command’s Leader Professional Development webinar on May 19, discussed how mental readiness ties into Army fitness overall, while maximizing Soldier potential.
Led by U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, Holistic Health and Fitness is a major Army initiative promoting the five domains of readiness required to maintain a Soldier’s overall wellbeing including mental, physical, nutritional, spiritual and sleep. H2F empowers and equips Soldiers to take charge of their health, fitness and well-being in order to maximize individual performance, while preventing injury and disease.
Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, commanding general, CIMT, hosted the event, leading the discussion with subject matter experts Karen Costello, Human Performance Analyst, with Booz Allen Hamilton, and retired Lt. Col. Andy Riise, Mental Performance Coach, with the Cincinnati Reds, who shared their thoughts on H2F and building mental readiness.
“Mental resiliency and strength are going to help Soldiers be better human beings when they transition out of the Army,” Riise stated.
During the live online discussion, Riise spoke about the progress the Army has taken since he left; in regards to mental health.
“In response to the Army suicide rates in 2009, the Army combined the ‘Army Center for Advanced Performance’, the ‘Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’ and the ‘University of Pennsylvania Resilience Project’ to develop comprehensive Soldier training,” Riise said.
H2F has since expanded this training plan to include all aspects of improving Soldier readiness. The Army has hired professionals as additional resources for H2F to help Soldiers overcome any obstacles they may be facing.
“One of the strategies the Army is using for H2F is at the Initial Entry Training phase when new Soldiers come into our system,” Hibbard said. “We are working to change the culture of the Army and remove the stigma of asking for help.”
Hibbard emphasized that changing a culture of fitness takes time, but eliminating the stigma will ensure Soldiers understand that asking for help isn’t something to hide.
“Mental skills and techniques can be built upon from the initial point of entry into the Army,” Riise said. “Allowing Soldiers to continue enhancing these traits throughout their service.”
During the LPD, panelists discussed how the Army faces a challenge in effectively measuring these programs moving forward.
Riise emphasized the challenge but suggested engaging outside researchers to help the Army understand themselves as well as evolve.
Hibbard stated that the Army is currently fielding 28 brigades by the end of September to test how Soldiers interact on a daily basis with their new resources.
Soldier buy-in is a key factor to ensuring the success of H2F as the Army moves forward.
“When teaching mental readiness skills during physical training, we advise them on how they are able to transfer these to different areas of life such as giving a brief,” Costello said.
Riise emphasized the long term benefit to H2F, “The mental and intangible skills you learn in the Army are the traits you’re able to carry with you and make you a Soldier for Life.”
To watch the Building Mental Readiness LPD webinar in its entirety, check it out on TRADOC’s Vimeo page at https://vimeo.com/554414529.