Recently I visited Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina where I learned how soldiers and families are integrating healthy living into their daily lives. The purpose of my visit was to analyze the impact and delivery of health and wellness initiatives on site as it relates to the Healthy Base Initiative (HBI) and Operation Live Well (OLW).
In 2013, the Defense Department (DoD) launched the HBI demonstration project to examine efforts at select military installations to support improved nutritional choices, increased physical activity, obesity reduction, and decreased tobacco use.
OLW is DoD’s long-term healthy living initiative targeting service members, their families, retirees, and DoD civilians. OLW also supports the National Prevention Strategy of improving Americans’ well-being through a prevention-oriented approach to staying healthy and fit. Ft. Bragg is doing a great job integrating families in its healthy living programs on the installation. One example is the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) program.
The CSF2 program helps to strengthen resilience and enhance performance of the Army family—soldiers, families, and Army civilians— by providing hands-on training that help deal with adversity through a series of exercises. It is a great demonstration of the crossroads between mind and body. The life skills learned through CSF2 can be beneficial to a soldier on the battlefield or a spouse dealing with a stressful situation at home. I along with several members of my team had the opportunity to take a mini course and learn first-hand how these life skills improve resilience, boost performance, and develop coping skills. I was impressed with the level of training that can be applied from the beginning of a soldier’s military experience until the end of one’s career. Integrated health and wellness initiatives such as CSF2 are critical to our success. If we don’t have a healthy defense community, we will not have healthy individuals and will not meet our mission.
One of the highlights of this trip was the opportunity to work with retired Col. Greg Gadson. He is a senior military subject matter expert, former Garrison Commander at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and director of Army Wounded, Ill and Injured program, and a motivational speaker. Col. Gadson is also a bilateral above the knee amputee who was injured in Iraq in 2003 and went on to serve for eight years on active duty. He is a big supporter of OLW and knows the importance of proper nutrition, physical activity, and mental wellness – all of these are pillars of OLW.
My next visit will be to Yongsan Garrison in South Korea where we will be learning about several health initiatives including the Army Performance Triad and Community Health Promotion Council.