Fort Jackson felt the earth move, March 24 – not because another earthquake hit the South Carolina midlands, but rather because the post opened a health facility on post.
The Drill Sergeant Timothy Kay Soldier Performance Readiness Center “represents a seismic shift” towards how the Army approaches how troops are trained, evaluated, and sustained, said Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson’s commander. “It is an investment in individual Soldier preparedness.”
The facility is named after the late Staff Sgt. Timothy Kay, a drill sergeant from 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, who overcame cancer to become a drill sergeant only to have it return. Kay, an avid proponent of physical fitness, lost his fight to cancer in 2022.
“Starting today we can all come here and immerse ourselves in the finer points of holistic health and fitness,” Kelly added. “We can consult with occupational therapists, dieticians, cognitive enhancement specialist, athletic trainers, and spiritual advisors …”
The center, the first in the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, is about “empowerment,” Fort Jackson’s top officer said. It is a way to help each Soldier and cadre member to become better versions of themselves.
The SPRC is about resilience, Kelly added. The newly opened center offers the opportunity “to speak with advisors, to be coached on how best to deal with the adversity we have in our lives.”
“I am of the opinion if we take care of our people, all else will follow,” Kelly said.
Maj. Gen. John D. Kline, CIMT commander, said during the event that senior leaders said the cost that goes along with H2F is “well worth the investment … But I will tell you that if we save a life (or) we save two lives, one would argue this is absolutely worth every penny.”
Soldiers and civilians using the SPRC can talk to counselors, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and other specialists.
The idea for H2F had its genesis in the U.S. Special Operations Command initiatives aimed at human optimization for peak performance.
The 165th Infantry Brigade’s commander, Col. Kent Solheim, was with the 3rd Special Forces Group when H2F concept took off.
“So how do we create peak performance in our Soldiers? We do that through the five domains of health and fitness,” Solheim said. The five domains of H2F are mental, physical, spiritual, sleep and nutritional fitness. “When you come here you are rewiring yourself to be able to have a better life. It helps you not only perform on the objective, but perform at home, at work and everywhere else.”
The SPRC has workout rooms lined with free weight benches, barbells and climbing ropes, and other rooms dedicated to physical therapy. In the future the center will house offices dedicated to behavioral health and spiritual fitness.
While the center has top of the line workout equipment, that is not the goal, Solheim said.
“This is a shift in culture,” he said. “Yeah, I’d love to see you come in here and bench press more, but that is not the goal. The goal is to make us strong in all areas and increase the performance of how our Army operates. That starts with a cultural shift and that’s what this represents.”
After the ribbon was cut to officially open the SPRC, Soldiers filed into the center to conduct a workout dedicated to Kay.
Capt. Jonathan Lambright, with the 165th Infantry Brigade, said he was excited the center was opened.
“There’s a lot of good things” in the center, he said. He said he was privileged to visit the SPRC before it opened and is “excited for it to be fully capable and to get the cadre and Soldiers in here.”
Capt. Christopher Enke, the 165th Infantry Brigade Occupational Therapist said it was “really cool to be a part of this program as well as to dedicate to someone who lived every single day the things that we’re trying to espouse in Soldiers.”
“Kay was someone that pushed himself hard to get better every day, so it’s great that we’re able to honor him with this facility,” he added.
The SPRC is open to unit cadre and to Department of the Army Civilians who are in the Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program.