"More nutrition classes showing what we should be eating at the DFAC". "Our physical training at the unit needs to be similar to H2F. These are the best workouts I've ever done". "I think sleep class near the beginning would be good. This could produce immediate benefits for the students". These are just a few anonymous comments provided at the end of the first week in the Fort Eustis non-resourced brigade pilot Holistic Health and Fitness program.
The H2F team at the Center for Initial Military Training Headquarters began working on a pilot program to develop an H2F style foundation for the battalions that are not currently resourced.
In partnership with the Army Wellness Center, McDonald Army Health Center, Morale Welfare and Recreation, the Regimental Memorial Chapel, and the 128th Aviation Battalion, Soldiers will participate in a training program covering the five domains of H2F. Soldiers participated in an entry-level assessment of the five domains and, before completion, will take an exit-level assessment. These assessments tested Soldiers on ACFT scores, VO2 Max (Cardio Fitness), Body Composition, Grip & Back Strength, Flexibility, Behavioral Health/Spirituality, and Nutrition.
This initial pilot consisted of up to 25 128th Aviation Soldiers. This size made individualized training challenging for mental and spiritual domains, which is designed for smaller groups. Capt. Susan Borchardt, Chief Embedded Behavioral Health, said, "the typical size to a behavioral health collaboration is about 8-10. Having a larger size makes it easier for Soldiers not to engage."
"Soldiers usually think spirituality is only about religion, but it's not. We all have a spirit, whether or not we express that spirit through a particular religion. We teach Soldiers to train their spirits the same way they train their bodies," said Lt. Col. Paul Fritts, CIMT Chaplain. "Getting Soldiers to focus for a few minutes every day on big ideas, like their purpose in life, is like doing a spiritual leg tuck. Over a week, that adds up. That's where we see their spiritual leg tucks progressing."
"I was surprised how engaged this group was; mental health isn't something that 18-25-year-olds think is 'cool,'" said Borchardt. "With this being only two weeks, we don't have but so much time with the Soldiers. I want them to learn more about themselves and why they respond in certain ways."
After receiving initial reviews, the pilot program will grow from only two weeks into multiple programs of varying lengths to gather more data on Soldiers' progress during these sessions.