CARLISLE BARRACKS, Pa. - The Carlisle Barracks Army Wellness Center, set to begin operations in July, marks another important milestone in the Army's campaign to improve the well-being of Soldiers, family members, retirees and Army civilian employees.

Army Wellness Centers complement care of primary care physicians at installation medical treatment facilities, according to the U.S. Army Public Health Command. The centers provide health promotion services and education tailored to meet individual patient needs.

"We are moving from a health care system to a system of health by taking a patient-centered approach," said Col. Stephanie Wilcher, commander of the Dunham Army Health Clinic here. "It is a system of care tailored to meet individual needs through a holistic approach to health care with a heavy emphasis on prevention."

Primary care managers will offer advice on preventive care based on a patient's environmental and genetic risk factors to develop comprehensive care plans, and wellness centers will help patients make healthy lifestyle decisions by providing access to resources through state-of-the-art fitness testing, healthy nutrition advice, stress reduction using biofeedback, fitness programs and health education.

The Wellness Center staff work in partnership with primary care managers to share information and develop comprehensive plans to address lifestyle changes that can improve client health and fitness.

Wilcher envisions the Army Wellness Center here as a resource individuals can use to invest in personal health by acquiring tools to help live more healthy lifestyles.

Open to active duty military from all services, retirees, family members, and members of the Carlisle Barracks civilian workforce, individuals may "self-refer" for services or receive a referral from their primary care manager.

Located at 315 Lovell Avenue on Carlisle Barracks, the Center, one of four currently open in the United States, will begin providing services on July 1, and will mark its formal opening with a ribbon cutting some time in September.

In mid-July, the Center will conduct assessment testing and personal wellness plan development for the U.S. Army War College Department of Distance Education's Second Resident Course, and in early August assessment testing and personal wellness plan development will focus on the U.S. Army War College resident class of 2013.

After student testing and assessments are complete, the Center will open to the Carlisle Barracks civilian workforce and all other military health care beneficiaries.

"From our workforce to our babies, we are absolutely committed to the health of the people we serve," said Wilcher.

"The Wellness Center will provide a standardized set of services that give people information about their lifestyle, current health status, and the tools they can use to make positive changes," said Cory Erhard, director of the Carlisle Barracks Army Wellness Center. He says that they will accomplish this by working with primary care managers to address any issues identified in testing and assessment and then develop individual wellness plans to help clients achieve their goals."

Erhard, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Penn State University, has experience as a personal fitness trainer and directed the Fitness Department at the Carlisle (Pa.) Area YMCA where his team created wellness programs, including programs addressing childhood obesity and wellness for senior citizens.

"The Army Wellness Center assists the Dunham Clinic in the effective treatment of their patients by tying into the clinic's Patient Center Home Model," Erhard said.

This, according to Wilcher, is a multi-disciplinary team approach where the primary care manager and the Wellness Center staff work together to get people healthy by focusing on individual needs and incorporating those needs into a personalized plan for health.

The Wellness Center staff includes a nurse educator, two health educators and two health promotion technicians, said Erhard. They are trained to teach health education programs, conduct health assessments, administer tests and develop plans to help clients achieve wellness goals.

Wilcher also indicated that the Wellness Center will have a "mobile component" to it, providing educational programs and limited testing services to workforce members at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pa., the Defense Distribution Center at New Cumberland, Pa., and Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pa.

Available individualized health promotion services will include:

Health Assessment Review: Provide a quick analysis of health status and risk for disease to determine if an increase in physical activity is safe.
Physical Fitness: Use advanced technology to assess current fitness levels and generate information to customize exercise programs meeting needs and goals.
Health Nutrition: Conduct metabolic testing to enhance healthy eating by synchronizing resting metabolic rate and providing tailored strategies for weight management.
Stress Management: Conduct biofeedback and education in stress relief techniques, positive coping skills, detecting cognitive distortions, and creating good sleep habits.
General Wellness Education: Teach healthy lifestyles, increased resiliency, and preventing chronic disease through healthy living and self-care.
Tobacco Education: Assess readiness to change, discuss options for becoming tobacco-free, and recommend or provide appropriate tobacco cessation education programs.