As we enter the 12th year of continuous combat operations, the mission of Army Medicine has never been more important. Few of us remain unaffected by the wounds of combat, both visible and invisible. More than 1.5 million service members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and we still have 60,000 Soldiers serving in Afghanistan today.
The medical requirements of the force have grown and changed in the last decade, and Army leaders recognize the importance of enabling wellness and health.
The Secretary of the Army announced recently right here at JBLM the Armys Ready and Resilient Campaign. It is a comprehensive program to promote a cultural change across the Army that integrates various approaches to how we assess, create and maintain Soldier resilience ensuring the highest level of Soldier fitness, individual performance and unit readiness.
The key to a ready and resilient force is looking at where wellness and health happens. It happens in those 500,000 minutes people spend each year outside of a doctors office, what we call the lifespace.
The strategy to affect the lifespace is the Army Surgeon Generals Performance Triad Action Plan, a plan developed in collaboration with military and civilian experts in the areas of activity, nutrition and sleep.
Physical activity improves health by strengthening the body muscles, the heart and lungs but it also reduces stress, increases energy levels and improves your mood. The Army will promote activities that will enhance the health and well-being of the entire team, and encourage people to incorporate activity into their whole lives, not just into their physical training test.
Despite the fact that most people believe Soldiers to be fit, between 1998 and 2010 the number of active-duty overweight or obese military personnel more than tripled. Quality and appropriate nutrition can not only help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, but it can also prevent disease.
The Army will also begin to educate the force on the detrimental effects of sleep loss and fatigue, and provide strategies to educate on optimal sleep, and provide mission planning and decision support tools to properly plan for sleep management for sustained operations. Sleep surveillance and screening will become part of primary care medical appointments to ensure providers are able to provide education and behavioral interventions for effective sleep habits.
Army Medicine intends to implement a Performance Triad pilot program at three installations: Joint Base Lewis- McChord; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Bragg, N.C. They will test the program with one battalion-sized element at each location for a total of about 2,200 Soldiers. Major General Steve Lanza, 7th Infantry Division commanding general, has committed to work in concert with us at Western Regional Medical Command and Madigan Army Medical Center to implement this important program that will explore exactly how activity, nutrition and sleep affect the individual Soldier.
The Army and Army Medicine will continue to encourage Soldiers, retirees, Family members and Army civilians to incorporate health-promoting behaviors and decisions into their everyday lives. Our success will be measured by the improvement in health and the reduction of disease and injury among our Army team members. These improvements are tied to an enhanced quality of life that will benefit all.