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November 27, 2009
Mental fitness focus for Vicenza
comprehensive work group
|VICENZA, Italy (Army News Service) — Sitting in front
of a computer and filling out a questionnaire sounds like a strange way
to test fitness, but that’s exactly how the Army will measure the
fitness of the force as part of the new Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
The CSF Program is focused on building personally resilient troops by
ensuring they’re healthy in their physical, emotional, social, family
and spiritual lives, said Megan Hallam, U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza’s
Health Promotion Officer. At Vicenza, the military community is leading
the way by establishing the first working group in Europe to integrate
the program at the installation level.
The program was established in October 2008 as a proactive way to help
Soldiers deal with the stress of military service in an era of
persistent conflict, according to the CSF Web site.
Divorce rates, increased suicide risk, instances of Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder, substance abuse, sexual assault and attrition were the
drivers behind the new program, according to a presentation by Brig.
Gen. (Dr.) Rhonda Cornum, the Army’s assistant surgeon general for force
projection, at the Association of the United States Army Conference in
The Army-level program is beginning by collecting information about
Soldiers’ holistic fitness. Soldiers will have to complete the Global
Assessment Tool (GAT), an online test which evaluates the CSF’s five
areas of concern.
The GAT will then give the Soldier a confidential snapshot of his or her
holistic health, followed by access to training modules designed to
build greater personal resiliency skills. The pilot phase of the GAT was
completed in October. The test will be re-worked before being introduced
at large, although the GAT is still available for Soldiers.
All non-deployed Soldiers will be required to complete the GAT by March
Many Soldiers at Vicenza will be exempt from taking the assessment by
the deadline because of deployments.
The GAT also will be adjusted for use by family members and Army
civilians, and both tests are scheduled to be available online in 2010.
That information will be separated from personally identifying factors,
and used to judge the wellness of the Army community and to find ways
that the population can be better served.
At Vicenza, the CSF working group is not waiting for information to come
back from Army level. Taking a preventative approach, the group has
started by evaluating the risk periods and trends in the Vicenza
community to anticipate future needs, Hallam said.
Data from the Risk Reduction Program such as disciplinary actions,
alcohol incidents, financial problems and positive urinalysis rates as
compared to the rest of the Army and as compared to trends in the
lead-up to prior deployments, is showing overall trends in the
community. Other data from last deployments, such as surveys given to
Family Readiness Groups, are supplying a picture of the civilian
Preliminary information indicates that substance abuse, suicidal
gestures, high-risk behaviors, domestic violence, accidents and traffic
offenses all increase in the two to three months before a deployment.