Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. met with Army leaders and listened to the concerns of military families during a visit to the 25th Infantry Division, Feb. 26.

After a meeting with 25th Inf. Div. commanding general, Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux at the division headquarters, Casey walked to the Sgt. E.R. Smith Theater where he spoke with local military families and invited their questions.

Casey emphasized one of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs newest initiatives, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which addresses physical, emotional, spiritual, social and family needs.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a program designed to bring mental fitness up to the level of effort that we give to physical fitness. We are trying to give every Soldier, family member, and civilian the skills they need to be better, and to be more resilient,Aca,!A? said Casey.

The program includes four components: separate online self-assessments for Soldiers and family members; online self-help options; at least one senior non-commissioned officer trained as a master resilience trainer at the University of Pennsylvania in each battalion; and more resiliency training included in Army schools.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve been at war for eight and a half years, and weAca,!a,,cre going to be at this war a decade or so longer, thatAca,!a,,cs the reality of it,Aca,!A? he continued. And so we have to sustain ourselves for this over the long haul, and thatAca,!a,,cs what this program is designed to do.Aca,!A?

Soldiers and family members asked Casey about topics such as education for children in the Hawaiian community, deployment cycles, reset timelines for Soldiers returning from theater and quality of life programs.

According to the top Army officer, todayAca,!a,,cs young Soldier is better equipped to succeed in a
combat environment and lead others than ever before, but he cautioned this progress still isnAca,!a,,ct enough to ensure their physical and emotional well-being.

"I've come to realize that the most important thing that we can do as an Army to get ourselves back in balance is to increase the time Soldiers are at home between deployments," said Casey.

Casey explained that the Army has documented it scientifically. "We just completed a study that shows that it takes 24 to 36 months to fully recover from a 12-month combat deployment,Aca,!A? he said. And that's why it's so important that we get to our goal in 2011 of one year out, two years back, for the active force; one year out, four years back for the Guard and Reserve,Aca,!A? he continued.

Casey assured his audience that progress is being made to support the health of Soldiers and
Army family life through continued efforts to shorten the time Soldiers spend in combat, increase time Soldiers have with their families, and maintain the funding of programs to address their needs.

Aca,!A"We remain committed to delivering on the Army Family Covenant,Aca,!A? said Casey. Back in 2007 when we started that, we immediately doubled the amount of money we were putting toward Soldier and family programs,Aca,!A? he continued. We are absolutely committed to maintaining the appropriate level of funding for Soldier and family member programs.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"The new facilities on Army installations are absolutely magnificent, and the quality of life is continuing to go up,Aca,!A? Casey said. WeAca,!a,,cve made great progress over the last two, two and a half years, and I can see this going in a positive direction.Aca,!A?