By Sgt. Joshua Syberg
| Army Wellness Centers | July 23, 2020
1st. Lt. David Hudson, Operations Officer for Indiana Wellness Centers, received testing in the BODPOD, a chamber that measures body composition, on July 16th, 2020, at Camp Atterbury’s Army Wellness Center. Indiana’s AWCs are located at Camp Atterbury, Lawrence Armory and the South Bend Armory. They provide services for military service members and military retirees of all branches and components, Defense Department civilian employees as well as all of their spouses and dependents who are between the ages of 15 to 26. (Photo by National Guard Sgt. Joshua Syberg) (Photo by Spc. Joshua Syberg)
Army Wellness Centers, which provide programs and services that improve and sustain health, performance, and readiness of soldiers, have 31 locations spanning across five different countries located on active duty installations.
However, there is only a few states in the U.S. that has the wellness centers belonging specifically to the Army National Guard.
One of those states is Indiana.
“There’s huge discrepancies in the field of health and wellness that needs to be understood scientifically to have long term change,” said Jared Harper, director of Indiana’s Army Wellness Centers. “That kind of created what we have now as the Indiana Wellness Center mission statement. Which is ‘train, elevate and retain the physical readiness of the force through integrated and standardized primary programs that empower soldiers and their families to live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle,’ and that’s ongoing.”
Harper said they want their fitness trainers to work at the company level to understand there are soldiers who are struggling and to be able to identify them and help them find the resources available to help.
Indiana’s fitness trainers who are embedded in units across the state, are non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers with high fitness scores and leadership characteristics and who are taught exercise science fundamentals, conditioning program design and coaching skills.
These National Guard fitness paladins preach wellness while they roam throughout the state to armories and facilities — spreading the good word of health.
However, in Indiana, National Guard master fitness trainers have the extra tool of an Army wellness network built specifically for Guardsmen.
“I think everybody, whether we want to admit it or not, knows that there are stigmas attached to folks who are failing body composition or physical fitness tests and that’s really not the way we should look at those soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Gallick, a state master fitness trainer. “We should be looking at helping them up and getting them back into shape. To do the body composition test, metabolic heart rate, maximal oxygen consumption, the hour with a registered dietitian and an hour with the strength coach you're looking at around $1,200 on the civilian side and now this is available free to soldiers and their dependents.”
In order to get Guardsmen motivated and receive support to attend all the courses and programs the wellness centers offer the most crucial advocates come from unit leadership to get them there.
Gallick said the five-day strength and conditioning course they host has seen many commanders and first sergeants throughout the state attend. Giving leadership the ability to meet the state MFTs, see the wellness centers and Army Combat Fitness training facilities to take that knowledge back to their units.
Indiana’s AWCs are located at Camp Atterbury, Lawrence Armory and the South Bend Armory. They provide services for military service members and military retirees of all branches and components, Defense Department civilian employees as well as all of their spouses and dependents who are between the ages of 15 to 26.
Indiana’s fitness trainers travel all across state meeting Guardsmen at armories and training sites as a physical fitness support group and advocates for Army Wellness Centers.
With command buy-in and an MFT network focused on support, Guardsmen and their families have no reason not to use these free, accessible and powerful resources to become fit and healthy.