FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers and Family Members of the Desert Cat battalion gathered together for a Family fitness day, July 1, to kick off the Independence Day weekend. The event was designed to promote camaraderie and competition between the participants, as well as highlight ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the whole Family.

"We have handouts we received from the hospital that talk about healthy living and we had a cooking competition that focused on healthy breakfast and dessert options," explained Lt. Col. Jason Garkey, the 1-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander. "We want everyone to understand that exercise is good, but that your diet and lifestyle also has an impact."

Along with the cooking competitions, the morning offered many activities to satisfy everyone.
Family Members were offered a chance to crawl around inside vehicles commonly used by the battalion.

There were physical fitness tests like a relay sprint, bench-press competition, and a three-part race involving sand bags, water jugs, and tires.

"We started this morning with a four-mile ruck march, and some of the companies held company Family runs to start the spirit of the day," said Lt. Col. Garkey. "Then we brought everybody over to the field where we had physical events and static displays so the Families can better understand what their spouses do."

The air was filled with laughter from little children in the bounce house, exploring inside vehicles, racing their parents in the relay races, and throwing water balloons at their Soldier victims. Although the humidity made it impossible not to break a sweat, the atmosphere of the day made it impossible not to break into a smile.

"Today has been pretty awesome," said Spc. Mitchell Moore, an unmanned aerial vehicle operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Co., and a native of Apple Valley, Calif. "A lot of good competitions is making this a lot of fun and it definitely boosts morale, to have all the Families out here."

That was exactly what the day was designed to do.

"This is part of our resilience program, where we are integrating the Families into battalion level events," Lt. Col. Garkey explained. "We'd like to do this kind of event every month to six-weeks to make the Families feel like they are part of the organization, so when their spouses go away for the day, they have a better understanding of what they do."

The event not only brought the Families closer into the battalion, it strengthened the bond between the Soldiers.

"It's always interesting when you have an organization as diverse as ours when they come together," said Lt. Col. Garkey. "During the day we may be civil engineers, we may be military intelligence, but in these types of events it is great to see we are all Soldiers."

So as the morning drew to a close, the battalion filled the bleachers inside Newman Gym and the winners for events such as the "healthiest breakfast" and "fittest couple" received certificates. But the hope was that everyone received something from the day to help improve their lifestyle and their understanding of their Families, the battalion, and the Army.