D.C. (Army News Service) — The Army has launched an initiative
to include Soldiers’ mental and emotional fitness, as well as
physical form, as a comprehensive assessment of troop health.
driving force behind the creation of the wider-ranging appraisal is
the high rate of posttraumatic stress disorder, with 20 percent of
combat forces returning from Iraq and Afghanistan reporting symptoms,
said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Rhonda Cornum, the Army’s assistant surgeon
general for force projection.
‘Army Strong’ is, in fact, being more than just physically fit,’
Cornum said during a panel discussion at the annual Association of the
United States Army conference. "A lot of it’s in your
recommended that the Army evaluate comprehensive fitness as
aggressively as it does physical fitness. Similar to the way the Army
grades physical health along an axis, scores will be meted out for
mental and emotional capacity.
fitness in these latter realms is characterized as high levels of
resilience, adaptability, self-confidence and agility. On the other
hand, if Soldiers exhibit stress, insecurity, immaturity or a lack of
discipline, they might receive a poor score.
who register a mid-level score may undergo education or training,
while those with ratings just below average might receive some form of
therapeutic regimen. The Army will step in when Soldiers need direct
intervention, Cornum said.
general said the most vulnerable demographic is members of the junior
enlisted ranks, who tend to be younger than their higher-ranking
counterparts. But the proposal entails comprehensive fitness
assessments for all force members, over their entire careers.
the senior enlisted level and within the officer corps, emphasis will
be placed on training programs to help these personnel instruct and
instill these values in their younger subordinates.
is going to be a culture change for the Army," Cornum said,
"but I think it’s really important, because these are life
skills and capabilities that you can train."
Cornum was Army Col. Craig Currey, director of the Basic Combat
Training Center of Excellence at Fort Jackson, S.C. He said the Army’s
goal is to produce ‘ground combatants’ — Soldiers who are as fit
mentally and emotionally as they are physically.
amount of time to transform civilians into ground combatants is more
limited than in the past, the colonel said, as 80 percent of new
Soldiers are deployed within a year after basic training.
old days of basic training and then going to a unit somewhere and
learning from the (noncommissioned officers) really is not happening,
because they’re ending up in combat," he said.
Army used to rely on role-modeling as its main mechanism for conveying
what Currey deemed "intangibles" — spiritual and emotional
readiness for combat. Now, the service’s goal is to institutionalize
such training through their new comprehensive approach.
Dr. (Col.) Charles Milliken, a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed
Institute of Research, said that just as troops join the Army for
different reasons, Soldiers also have individual strengths and
weaknesses. A more holistic initial assessment will help the Army
steer individuals into more appropriate developmental programs, where
necessary, he said.
goal of the assessment is to push people into programs sooner,"
Sgt. Maj. John Heinrichs, who works in the Office of the Sergeant
Major of the Army, welcomed the new focus on mental health, which he
called equally important as physical health.
dollar, every hour we invest in this, will pay for itself in the
future," he said. "This is a part of balancing the