Great Place health, wellness program prioritizes civilian’s fitness, quality of life

By Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsJune 20, 2024

Four women lift a kettlebell above their heads as they kneel on one knee in a gym as another woman ties her shoe.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Instructor Jana Roman and attendees participate in the Applied Functional Fitness group class that focuses on function movements at the Applied Functional Fitness Center May 14, 2024, at Fort Cavazos, Texas. (Photo Credit: Photo by Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
A woman stands holding a barbell with weights on the end with her hands by her shoulders.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Summer Inwood, an employee with the Directorate of Family, Moral, Recreation and Welfare, lift weights during the Applied Functional Fitness group at the Applied Functional Fitness Center on Old Ironsides Avenue. The class is available three times a day Monday through Friday. (Photo Credit: Photo by Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas Oftentimes, Department of the Army civilians can find their days filled with emails, meetings and endless time sitting in front of the computer. However, Fort Cavazos has revitalized its effort to promote utilization of the Army’s Civilian Health and Wellness program to better civilians.

The Civilian Health and Wellness program is a voluntary initiative for Army-appropriated and non-appropriated funded civilians. Upon supervisor approval, civilians may be granted up to three hours of administrative leave per week, with up to one hour a day, and no more than 80 hours in a calendar year.

Part-time team members may receive prorated administrative leave matching the number of hours worked in a pay period. If a team member works in telework status, they are also able to participate.

The activities must be command-sponsored programs done on the installation.

“Part of the reason the military has adopted this program is because they’ve seen results in terms of the health of their employees,” said program participant Virginia Sanford, supervisor for the Directorate of Public Works Endangered Species Management Team. “So, employees that maintain their physical health often use their sick leave less.”

The goal of the program is to enhance the health, fitness and quality of life of DA civilians while increasing organizational wellness and mission productivity. Evidence indicates employees who have an opportunity to participate in health programs experience increased job productivity and life satisfaction.

The Fort Cavazos Workforce Development Office oversees the execution of the wellness program at this installation. Shelley Tippens, Workforce Development Office director, said the program benefits the team members and the garrison.

“We are pushing for them (civilian employees) to participate in it because of the benefits of being a healthy team member,” Tippens said, “and what it does for the garrison is it creates a healthy environment for team members who come to work.”

Tippens’ team has expanded their outreach efforts to inform civilians about the program.

“I’m sending out flyers and emails and providing them (supervisors) the information and the knowledge and showing them how this could benefit them as far as the increase of morale with their staff and even with themselves being healthy,” Tippens said.

Team members have access to numerous command-sponsored activities, all aimed at achieving program objectives, such as health fairs, holistic educational courses, aerobic exercises, health promotion activities and utilizing garrison fitness facilities.

Emily Cox, fitness program specialist with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said the centers have numerous activities that meet the standards of the program.

The centers employ around 12 individuals, all certified in their respective fields of study, and offer applied functional fitness, group fitness, core rehab, spin, glute camp, yoga, hybrid training and special events throughout the year. Cox said a good first stop for attendees is the Fort Cavazos Army Wellness Center.

“They are a great resource where they have a lot of different technology that can give you biomarkers,” Cox said. “So, what that means is you have the Bod Pod (body composition machine) that reads kind of like your water percentage to your muscle percentage to your fat percentage. So that’s a great thing when we have someone come in, for example, and work with a personal trainer, or if you’re starting a new program with one of our fitness classes, go to the Bod Pod; get that read.”

Cox said after a couple of weeks or months, they suggest another read for participants to see how the program is working for them.

In addition to the Bod Pod, the Army Wellness Center provides health coaching, metabolic testing, fitness testing and educational classes in nutrition, sleep and stress management.

Three women do yoga on mats in a large room.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Instructor Catherine Munroe and attendees Ashley Werner and Amelia Hashman participate in a yoga class May 14, 2024, at Starker Functional Fitness Center on Old Ironsides Avenue at Fort Cavazos, Texas. Yoga is available Tuesdays not only for civilians but all Department of Defense identification cardholders. (Photo Credit: Photo by Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
Two women row on rowing machines in a gym.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Donna Tomsic, a lead management analyst within the Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, and Janecze Wright, Fort Cavazos Sentinel living editor, work out May 13, 2024, in the III Armored Corps Headquarters' basement gym during their lunch time. (Photo Credit: Photo by Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

Even though the number of team members currently participating in the program is limited, some of those who have established a contract with their supervisors have found it to be beneficial.

“I attended the Army Wellness Center from 2020 to 2022,” said Edwin Rivas-Colon, a civil engineer with DPW. “I participated in all kinds of programs getting great benefits from fitness, stress management and nutrition. Last time I attended was about March 2022 as I recall. Then I stopped and gained weight and got back to square one.”

“Recently I joined a six-week challenge… which ended April 19,” Rivas-Colon continued. “It was excellent, so now I’m in a come-back mode after leaving my routine for two years.”

Rivas-Colon hopes participating in the program will help him lose weight, manage stress, sleep better and improve his overall health.

Donna Tomsic, a lead management analyst within the Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, said she was once part of the program, and she thought of joining it again after seeing coworkers working out.

“I was giving somebody a tour of the building (III Armored Corps Headquarters), and that’s when I saw Mike Hampton (director of Safety for the Garrison) and other ladies … and I saw what they were doing,” Tomsic said. “And they offered the opportunity to come down here and learn the CrossFit and stuff that they were doing.”

Tomsic attends a small group workout session with other team members in the III Armored Corps Headquarters’ basement gym. The ladies attend the sessions during their lunch break, and Tomsic incorporates part of her hour into the session.

Tomsic is also hoping to receive major benefits from the program.

“Just more health and less stress,” she said. “An added benefit is getting to meet other people within the building and garrison.”

Sanford also had her own reasons for participating in the program.

“Part of what motivated me is fitness is important as my own personal value, but it’s also a value that the military has,” Sanford explained. “I’m a veteran, so it was a good way to meld some of my personal goals with the Army’s attempt at improving the wellness of their workforce.”

Sanford and Tomsic both said their jobs are high tempo, which means sometimes the mission must come first. However, with the support of their supervisors and the flexibility of the program, they can adjust their workout to fit their week.

“Usually at the beginning of the week, I take a look at all of my meetings, my commitments, the work that I have to get done, and then I submit my request to my supervisor that way, I can look to see when I can fit it in around everything that’s happening,”

Sanford said.

Sanford’s goal is to use at least an hour and half each week for the program. Her workout routine usually consists of swimming, biking, running and weightlifting.

If a civilian wants to participate in the program, they must have an annual written program participation agreement that parallels the performance appraisal period. The individual must self-certify by stating they are not aware of any medical conditions or limitations that would put them at risk while in the program.

To find the full standard operating procedure, or SOP, and the agreement form, team members can go to the garrison SharePoint page. It also includes detailed information on how to log hours into the payroll system for appropriated and non-appropriate funded team members. For more information, reach out to the Workforce Development Office at 254-287-7337.