FORT McCOY, Wis. -- People who engage in a faith-centered fitness program find themselves better positioned to deal with the many twists and turns life inevitably presents to them, said Kimberly Mathews, the guest speaker at a March 11 Suicide Awareness event at Fort McCoy.

Maj. Mike Sharp, the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort McCoy, said the Suicide Awareness program - based on the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program - addresses different aspects of the issue and is being offered on a quarterly basis.

The Suicide Awareness program began last year with mandated communitywide events to address the Army's rising suicide rate, he said.

The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program addresses the issues of well-being in people's emotional, social, spiritual, Family, and physical realms to help them deal with the factors that may contribute to suicide, he said.

"We need to remind Soldiers they are valued by the Army, their Family, their friends and their nation," Sharp said. "We need to remind Soldiers that their Army remains committed to help support and assist them to meet hardships head-on."

Mathews, a former Olympic marathon hopeful, told the audience how faith and fitness helped turn around her life and overcome alcoholism.

"Faith and fitness is my passion," Mathews said. "It has really helped me become well."

Even though she had a Family, she still found herself lonely much of the time. Finally, she told the Lord she couldn't make it on her own anymore.

"You're only lonely when you don't like who you are alone with," Mathews said. "The first secret is to 'love yourself' and say nice things to and about yourself."

"I was riddled with guilt and shame and not breaking out of the cycle," she added.

Mathews said she finally broke out of the cycle by keeping the Lord front and center in her life.

That included forgiving herself when she wasn't perfect and sharing her fellowship with other people.

Nurturing the seven areas of life - body, mind, soul, relationships, home, work and finance - helps keep everyone in a healthy balance and a positive state of mind to face the things that come up, she said.

Getting a good night's sleep, taking time for recreation and exercise and practicing good nutrition are a few of the measures people can take to fight disease and reduce stress, Mathews said.

"If you take care of yourself physically, you have a better shot at feeling good in all other areas of your life," she said.

"What's the best kind of exercise you can do'" she asked members of the audience. "The kind you will do. It has to be fun so you will do it."

Following good, solid nutrition plans, such as including fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet, can help you take better care of your body, she said. All of these improvements can be felt and are transferred to Family, friends and co-workers.

"We have to identify what we can do better in life," Mathews said. "And make sure our values match up with our actions."
For more information about Suicide Awareness in the Fort McCoy community, call Scott Zaehler, Suicide Prevention Program manager at 608-388-2441.

More information about the Comprehensive Soldier Master Fitness program is available at the Web site