By Bryan Gatchell, Fort Bliss MonitorAugust 4, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas, Aug. 4, 2011 -- At Fort Bliss’ main post in late May, a collection of buildings within walking distance of each other were designated the Wellness Fusion Campus. Each building has a different function, varying from the Army Substance Abuse Program to the Ronald D. Milam Physical Fitness Center, and from Hope Chapel to Desert Strike Lanes Bowling Alley. Seemingly, these buildings have nothing to do with one another except for their relative proximity.
The signs for each of these buildings, however, betray their apparent disparateness. Below the names of these buildings are color-coded arrows with the words “physical,” “emotional,” “spiritual,” “family” and “social” inscribed. These words describe the five dimensions of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which is the primary concern of the campus.
“The whole vision of this is to have a one-stop place where Soldiers, families and [Department of Army] civilians can come and take care of any issues as they relate to the five dimensions of strength,” said Capt. Steve Gruenewald, executive officer of the Wellness Fusion Campus. “All the signs for the facilities on the campus will indicate the domains they address.”
Gruenewald stepped in to manage the campus but denies that he runs its activities.
“We’re not really directing anything, we’re just making sure the services are available,” he said.
Gruenewald’s past experience attempting to implement a similar program for the Warrior Transition Battalion made him the best candidate.
“We tried to do something like this back in 2007 with the [WTB],” said Gruenewald. “There was a vision that they had for the [WTB], specifically that we needed to get all those facilities that they need as close [as possible]. That’s why you see a lot of support services that are close together right here. … Because of that, this has evolved and made setting up the campus fairly easy as far as logistics go.”
The biggest hurdle to the campus’ success is its visibility to Soldiers, family members and civilians, something that is partly remedied by Soldier in-processing. When a Soldier arrives at Fort Bliss, the fourth day of their in-processing includes a briefing on what is available on campus. Soldiers also learn about resilience from the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program on the sixth day and goal setting on the seventh.
“We walk them through our seven-step goal-planning system,” said Justin Foster, a performance enhancement specialist with CSF-PREP. “They leave there with a process they can utilize again and again as they set and achieve goals throughout their career. We help them complete one goal sheet before they leave, which includes the specific dimension that that goal sheet is focused on.”
“Someone saying, ‘I need to work on physical,’ ‘I need to work on emotional,’ ‘spiritual,’ ‘social,’ they should be able to go to the campus,” said Chang-Hyun Ko, another performance enhancement specialist with CSF-PREP. “That should be the one-stop location for all the information available.”
“The concept of the campus itself and having these services in the same general area will ultimately be a sound benefit to all the programs involved by virtue of proximity,” said Foster. “If nothing else, individuals, families, Soldiers, commanders by knowing where the campus is and by knowing what’s involved … can at least know where to go to find [answers].”
The campus will eventually have a tree-lined walking path throughout for the Soldiers and family members as well as outdoor gardens termed “optimal healing areas” for quiet and meditation.
There are other plans for the future including Milam Physical Fitness Center hosting a physical therapist and nutrition specialist. There will also be an on-call chaplain 24 hours a day. Gruenewald mentioned the possibility of a similar campus at East Fort Bliss, though that is yet to enter the planning phase.
“We’re in the crawl phase,” said Gruenewald. “We’ve got all the pieces pulled together. We’re trying to add more pieces to the whole program. … It’s building slowly but surely.”