JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., –The Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) team launched its post-pilot Thunderbolt Performance Center at the Soldier Center Medical Home in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, April 13.
The 17th Field Artillery Brigade piloted the Army’s H2F program in early 2018 at the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment with a team of five experts and it has since grown as an Army-wide brigade level institution.
“This new system of readiness training shifts from the industrial, one-size fits all model, to a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating all aspects that impact Soldier readiness,” said Susanne Koch Craig, director of the Thunderbolt H2F program. “H2F not only optimizes Soldier performance on the battlefield–but aims to positively influence Soldiers’ lives through psychological and physiological means.”
The Thunderbolt Performance Center is designed to fulfill the FM 7-22 model for Holistic Health and Fitness within its 8000 square feet of training space. It is a fully equipped and staffed facility with a team of experts in nutrition, physical therapy, occupational therapy, sleep studies, mental wellness (behavioral therapy), and spiritual services (Chaplain) to help Soldiers maintain a better readiness across the mind, body and spirit.
“Within our walls, our capacity to assist and empower Soldiers is exceptional,” said Craig. “And I cannot be prouder of the professional team of experts who have worked to build trust with our Soldiers.”
The Army needs H2, since 70 percent of the American public is unqualified for military service physically or mentally. According to a HQDA EXORD 149-19 Health of the Force Study, prior to the H2F implementation across the Army, the force had a 30 percent attrition rate among first term enlistment Soldiers. Forty-two percent of the force were obese, 55 percent of Soldiers endured musculoskeletal injuries each year adding up to 10 million limited-duty days, and $557 million annually in patient care. Over 37,000 troops were undeployable due to medical reasons and 12 percent of Soldiers had sleep disorders wherein five percent of those needed medical aids to sleep. Suicide rates continued to rise. Just one percent reduction of non-deployable Soldiers would save the Army 40 million dollars.
While the H2F program was adopted within the Army and the 17th pilot footprint, it is not a new concept. It began over seventy years ago among professional sports and 10 years ago it was implemented on a smaller scale in special operations units as the Tactical Human Performance and Wellness program.
H2F is fully funded through fiscal year 30 with one billion dollars and Joint Base Lewis McChord has led the charge with its implementation.
“H2F implementation has faced many challenges of Equipment, facilities and onboarding personnel,” said Col. Thomas A. Bryant, H2F Action Officer with America’s First Corps. “Despite these challenges and with effective leadership and command involvement, we stand in this facility today, celebrating this momentous event. H2F is not so much a ‘program’ as a new way of living everyday life to curb the past trends of military readiness and its burden upon our healthcare system–improving healthy living for ourselves and our families.”
Leaders across the 17th footprint have access to additional resources to design tailored programs for warrior readiness including physical training plans, rather than the same training they’ve always done.
“The Thunderbolts have fully embraced H2F–partly as evidenced by our commitment to this facility,” said Col. Thomas D. Murphy Jr., Commander of the 17th FA Brigade. “But more importantly, with our integration of the H2F program withing our formations and culture.”
The H2F team has been invited into training meetings so they have full transparency of every battery’s operational readiness needs and can assist to develop healthier warriors and a more lethal force.
“I have to admit, I am in awe that the Army has finally gotten to the point–that we have the capability, resources and mindset to more effectively train our Soldiers and stay at pace with the most up-to-date fitness, performance and health practices available,” said Murphy. “H2F is fundamentally about the people–and the culture we develop to train and support each other. I am confident we are on the right path–and am thankful we are putting the resources to support a People Always approach. An approach that recognizes the mission gets done not at the expense of people–but because of the people.”