1st AD RSSB uses Army-wide program to improve health down range

Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade run and participate in the Community Health Promotion team program on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 9. This Army-wide program was developed to improve the health and wellness of the Soldiers, civilians and family members across the Army. The running group is one area of focus for the brigade. Photos by Master Sgt. Shelia L. Cooper, 1st AD RSSB Public Affairs.

Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade run and participate in the Community Health Promotion team program on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 9. This Army-wide program was developed to improve the health and wellness of the Soldiers, civilians and family members across the Army. The running group is one area of focus for the brigade. Photos by Master Sgt. Shelia L. Cooper, 1st AD RSSB Public Affairs.

By Master Sgt. Shelia L. Cooper, 1st AD RSSB Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Oct. 26, 2017)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade implemented the Community Health Promotion team program to improve Soldiers’ physical and mental well-being.

Army officials developed the program to improve the health and wellness of the Soldiers, civilians and family members throughout the Army.

A typical Community Health Promotion team program will aim to improve weight control through physical exercise and dietary regimens, and will provide behavioral health assistance as well. Those efforts will include conflict resolution, marriage improvement, master resiliency trainer, unit cohesiveness through equal opportunity programs and the commander’s cup competition series, as well as helping Soldiers develop, understand and implement financial goals.

While deployed to a combat zone, the 1st AD RSSB implemented this program, but tailored it to target specific areas due to limited capabilities in Afghanistan.

While there are limited resources available in a deployed environment, the brigade was able to initiate a running improvement program; a weight lifting improvement program; nutritional education; financial peace management; Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage seminars; conflict resolution talks; a commander’s cup competition series of five events; multiple equal opportunity observance days; and different mediums to exercise master resiliency trainer skills, said Capt. Ryan McPheeters, brigade medical planner, 1st AD RSSB.

The program helped leaders identify weaknesses among Soldiers in the brigade.

“Our specific program continuously reassesses the problem areas within the ranks and uses programs to target these areas,” McPheeters said. “For example, if we see an uptick in work-related arguments, we focus our attention to conflict-resolution programs.”

What you put into the program is what you get out of it, organizers said. For Soldiers who participated, their leaders could see improvements.

“The weight lifting improvement program saw significant improvement in the bench press, squat, and deadlift,” McPheeters said. “Ten people competed in a weight lifting competition, and we had two people join the Bagram 500-pound club with another three in the 1,000-pound club.”

Weight lifting was not the only area that saw improvement. The running group made tremendous progress over the past six-months.

“From those participating in the running program we saw significant improvements,” McPheeters said. “One individual improved their 2-mile run time by nearly three minutes; there were multiple participants who improved enough to pass their Army Physical Fitness Test; and two Soldiers completed the Air Force Half Marathon.”

Capt. Ryan McPheeters, brigade medical planner, 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, runs and participates in the Community Health Promotion team program running group on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 9. McPheeters served as the running coach for the brigade program. The running group is one area of focus for the brigade.

While deployed the brigade had about 10 Soldiers who actively participated in the running group; however, some Soldiers took advantage of the training plans and drills and worked out on their own. Overall, more than 30 Soldiers improved their running.

Sgt. Ashley Herndon, an ammunition stock control and accounting specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st AD RSSB, along with one of her Soldiers, joined the running group. McPheeters served as the running coach.

“The running program helped me achieve the goal of running a half marathon and my Soldier passed his APFT,” Herndon said.

For Herndon, the running group proved successful.

“It’s all about what you put in to it,” Herndon said. “Capt. McPheeters gave us a running schedule that we all stuck to when it came to running. My Soldier needed to improve in order to pass his APFT, so he was doing sprints. I was training to do a half marathon so I was doing more long distance runs.”

Aside from the physical aspect, running is also mental.

“You have way much more energy than you think you do to run that extra mile,” Herndon said. “Helping others get back on track can sometimes be a group effort. When it comes to improving yourself it’s going to suck before it gets better.”

The strain one’s body takes on from running mile after mile can play a major part physically and psychologically.

“In many cases the biggest deterrent to pushing one’s body during a 2-mile run is how uncomfortable they feel,” McPheeters said. “A large part of my training focused on sprint repeats over a variety of distances. These drills make the runner feel a great deal more uncomfortable than any 2-mile they have run, while also at the same time improving their strength and speed. In this way, their reference point of how bad they can feel is raised and are able to push harder than before.”

McPheeters said runners don’t have to be “runners,” per se – all they have to do is run.

“All that matters is that you lace up your shoes and get out there,” McPheeters said. “Of course, the major benefit comes from just putting feet to pavement. Any goal can be achieved with a realistic plan, a schedule to complete that plan and motivation to stick to that schedule.”