By Ms. Patricia Deal (Army Medicine)March 3, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas (March 3, 2011) -- In a time when obesity seems to be the national norm and the Pentagon worries that the military is "too fat to fight," one Soldier is fighting hard to meet the Army's weight standards.
Spc. Logan Burnett was shot three times at point-blank range Nov. 5, 2009, at Fort Hood, Texas. While Burnett, now with the Warrior Transition Brigade, has overcome many of his medical issues, he still has more work ahead of him.
He wants to show the Army he is "lean, mean and ready to fight" so he can stay on active duty.
About 15 percent of 17- to 24-year olds can't join the Army today because they don't meet the standards. Since the start of the Iraq war, increasing numbers of Soldiers are being administratively discharged because of weight issues or obesity.
Burnett has to fight harder than most as he had to overcome physical limitations.
He was shot once each in his hip, left elbow and left hand. An information systems specialist, Burnett was a Reservist with the 1908th Medical Detachment, which was mobilizing to Iraq, and had no idea how his fate would change in one day.
"I refuse to let what happened to me then affect my plans for the future," he said. "I am doing everything in my power to get my life back and to continue my Army career."
Burnett said when he is released from the WTB, he wants to transition from the Reserve to Active Duty.
"It hasn't been easy, as I've had 15 surgeries since the shooting and face yet another one on my hand soon," he said. "At first, the hip injury put me in a wheelchair. But now I can walk and run on a treadmill. I know I can do this. I can get my health back.
"Because of all the surgeries, I haven't been able to exercise and lift weights like I used to. I have put on about 60 extra pounds, which puts me out of Army standards," he said. "But I'm confident I can get there. Not only will I meet the Army standards, I'll exceed them."
He's already lost 20 pounds since January, thanks in part to the help he's received at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center's Nutrition Care Division.
He said he had an idea of what he needed to do to lose the weight, but the education and guidance from the Nutrition Clinic definitely helped him. He claims the classes reinforced a lot of what he already knew about nutrition and gave him some helpful tips.
"I have to say, though, that it's the individualized counseling that has really helped me. My personal nutritionist, Miss Barbara Hughart, really put it all together for me and has been my guiding force," he said. "She knows nutrition inside and out and is a great motivator. She's helped me become more nutritionally aware, like what proper portion sizes look like and how to read through food labels, so I can accurately determine the nutritional value of a food item."
While Burnett credits Hughart with much of his success, she said it's all because of determination he puts in each and every day. She said she serves only as the guide or coach while Burnett does all the hard work.
"In my job I hear a lot of excuses. Spc. Burnett suffered three gunshot wounds and faced multiple surgeries and long recuperation periods that hampered his ability to exercise and aggravated his weight gain," Hughart said. "But he never uses any of that as excuses. He has made valiant efforts to meet his weight-loss goal in spite of his pain. His weight loss progress in this last month has surpassed that of many Soldiers I have seen who have no other health issues."
Hughart said the information she shared with Burnett is the same advice she gives to most of her patients: weight loss is hard work and there is no quick fix or magic pill.
"We tailored his exercise program to what he can do at present and focused on cutting excess calories with low-nutrient value in his diet. He's really working hard at it," she said.
Not only has his nutritionist supported Burnett in his weight-loss efforts, she involved his wife, Victoria, for more support. Hughart said family support and a sense of teamwork is important to meet weight-loss goals.
"You really need that support. My wife has been there for me through all my surgeries. She's fully supportive as she comes to the gym with me and follows my nutrition plan," Burnett said. "She's hyperglycemic, so it's important for her to focus on eating healthy, too."
Victoria said she is impressed with her husband and his determination.
"It's funny because he hardly ever ate vegetables. Now we're eating tons of fruits of vegetables. He even eats eggplant now and other veggies he didn't know existed before," she added.