FORT DRUM, N.Y – Soldier readiness is one of the top priorities within the U.S. Army, within that includes physical fitness. However, some Soldiers possess temporary physical training profiles within every formation. For some of those Soldiers, the profile comes with a stigma of being “unfit” or “broken.”
To help counter that stigma, the 10th Division Sustainment Troops Battalion “Workhorse,” 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, and the brigade’s Holistic Health and Fitness team, also known as H2F, joined forces to create the Unbreakable Warrior program, also known as UBW.
The UBW program is divided into two sections, according to Staff Sgt. Fred C. Lefao. One section caters to those Soldiers who have temporary profiles, and the other section focuses on Soldiers coming to the unit from Advanced Individual Training.
“For our profile Soldiers, our goal is to sustain their fitness while also catering to whatever injuries they have,” said Lefao, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the program. “For our new Soldiers, we want to acclimate them to the weather here on Fort Drum while also giving them guidance on how to prepare for the events within the Army Combat Fitness Test.”
Although the program is Soldier-led, the H2F team trained Soldiers to become UBW instructors.
“Before becoming instructors, the H2F strength and conditioning coaches gave us guidance on the type of workouts we should program and how to properly and safely do exercises,” said Lefao. “Aside from the training, we also have two H2F personnel who assist us daily and guide us on situations with injuries that we might not be comfortable or knowledgeable enough to act on.”
Working with the H2F team has been an enjoyable experience, according to Lefao.
“I love working with the H2F, and I feel like I am always learning something new,” said Lefao. “Every day, I am learning a new exercise, a variation of an exercise, or learning how to properly treat an injury which is important for my knowledge but also to make sure the Soldiers in the program are properly cared for by my team.”
Rhonda Dusharm, a physical therapist assistant for the brigade’s H2F team, is one of the H2F members that work with Lefao and his team.
For Dusharm, it’s vital for the program’s cadre and H2F team to work cohesively.
“The UBW instructors have to know that we respect their level and ability to instruct, lead and interact with the Soldiers,” added Dusharm. “Having the right Soldiers running the program will make or break the program, and the team we have right now is truly the reason why this program is so successful.”
Dusharm added that it’s essential that the UBW team treat the Soldiers in the program with care and respect.
“You can be injured and still be strong and athletic,” said Dusharm. “It is important that Soldiers feel respected and equal even if they might have a profile or are new to “Army life.”
Dusharm added she hopes the program helps Soldiers understand that profiles aren’t negative but instead will help them as they continue in their Army careers.
“Although we are treating injuries and educating new Soldiers, the ultimate goal is long-term injury prevention,” she added. “Soldiers have to take time to recover from their injuries without feeling like they are being isolated because ultimately this will improve Soldier readiness.”
Lefao added that although H2F and UBW were not something available when he first came into the Army, he is excited to be part of the change.
“The H2F team treats us, Soldiers, like athletes, and we as the UBW instructors try to treat our Soldiers, regardless of profile or experience in the Army, like adults while also having a bit of fun,” said Lefao. “To me, this program is mind-blowing because we get to learn a lot, but we are also cared for as the Soldier-athletes that we are.”