NATICK, Mass. -- Twenty-five exhibitors from on and off the installation participated March 13 in the 2013 Natick Soldier Systems Center Health and Wellness Fair, which seeks to encourage a healthier workforce.

Emanuel Ingram Jr., chairman of the NSSC Community Health Promotion Council, or CHPC, which presented the event, said health and wellness have become increasingly important in the military and federal agencies in the past decade.

"No longer are people relying solely on doctors and hospitals to make them better if they get sick," Ingram said. "Instead, the approach has changed to one of illness prevention, to maintain or improve the state of health that already exists. This year's fair had representative specializing in areas ranging from diet and nutrition, spiritual and financial wellness, to yoga and stress reduction.

"Wellness programs lower overall health care costs, increase productivity, improve recruitment and retention efforts, reduce absenteeism and enhance job satisfaction."

"It was definitely more vendors than we've ever had before," said the CHPC's Amelia Dixon of the third annual event. "We just tried to have a good mix of all of the different areas of health and wellness.

"We follow the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness model, which talks about five pillars of health -- social, emotional, family, spiritual and physical resilience. We just kind of tried to have something representing all areas."

According to Dixon, 274 attendees, including Soldiers, Family members, retirees and Department of Defense civilians, took advantage of the event.

"We were happy with the turnout," Dixon said. "I got a lot of positive comments from people coming out the door.

"We had more services for Soldiers and veterans than we have in previous years. Hopefully, we had something to offer to everyone."

Dixon pointed out that time at such events is well spent.

"The research shows that the return on investment is really high," Dixon said. "A happy and healthy worker is a productive one. We're just grateful for leadership's support."

NSSC CHPC members include Dixon and Emanuel Ingram Jr., Sarah Palmer, Andrea St. George, Darin St. George, Jaylynn Richard, Ken Rice, Marina Carboni, Laura Capehart-Hall, Donna Leon, Darren Bean and Heather Leiby.

"I would just say that we welcome anyone's suggestions or recommendations, and we also welcome anyone who wants to join the committee," Dixon said. "We love to have new people, new ideas."

Dixon said that the CHPC received "immense support" for the fair from Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Strategic Communications, the Operational Forces Interface Group, and the Directorate of Emergency Services.