By Debbie Gregory.
Over the years, there have been various programs in place to promote healthy lifestyles among service members and their families. The Defense Department has launched the Building Healthy Military Communities pilot program to better understand the unique challenges faced by geographically dispersed servicemembers and their families that may impact their readiness, resiliency, and well-being.
The pilot program aims to address gaps between on-the-ground resources and geographically dispersed service members and their families.
U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Kimberly Elenberg, director of Operation Live Well, said that now more than ever, servicemembers are living off installations, which presents unique needs and challenges for the members and their families. The program aims to better connect service members to the DoD and local resources that already exist.
The pilot program aligns with the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Total Force Fitness initiative, a holistic framework for maintaining readiness and well-being.
The framework includes the domains that work together to optimize human performance and create a connection between mind, body, and spirit. They include health (physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being), resilience and human performance optimization.
The Building Healthy Military Communities pilot program is currently being conducted in seven states — Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and New Mexico, but could eventually expand to other states.
Selection criteria included: representation of multiple services across the state; demographic diversity within the states; existence of the National Guard Bureau’s Joining Community Forces programs and current initiatives.
The first phase of the pilot program began last year with the hiring of state coordinators in the participating states. The next phases will concentrate on communicating the resources to service members and their families and the utilization of mobile health technologies.