News: Army Reserve's Performance Triad pilot program debuts at Fort McCoy
Story by Capt. Jill Odell
FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Over 150 soldiers from the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command were the first to test the Army Reserve’s Performance Triad Pilot Program on June 14, 2014. The pilot program is being integrated into the two-week Physical Training Enhancement Program (PRET) currently being conducted by the 457th Transportation Battalion at Fort McCoy, Wis.
“The Performance Triad is a Department of the Army directed program that enhances nutrition, sleep, and exercise,” states Lt. Col. Timothy Sumovich, 457th Transportation Battalion commander.
Using a holistic approach to health and fitness with assistance from the latest in sports technology, the goal of the program is to reduce personnel loss due to out of shape soldiers failing to meet Army standards. The Army wants to create a “Soldier Athlete” by helping soldiers change their approach to health and fitness.
“Our program is very different from the active component,” states Col. Ava Davis, deputy surgeon United States Army Reserve Command.
Army Reserve soldiers face unique challenges in access to limited base resources and support compared to the active component soldiers explained Davis. The Army Reserve realizes that they do not have the means to engage soldiers every day, so the pilot program plans on using virtual means to engage soldiers between battle assemblies.
Utilizing a personal readiness device worn on the wrist, soldiers are able to monitor sleep patterns as well as activity throughout the day, according to Davis. Soldiers can track sleep and activity patterns online and even voluntarily link to other soldiers' personal readiness devices for encouragement and accountability through joint monitoring.
“We are giving these soldiers the tools that they can take home with them after battle assemble,” states Col. Charles Hahn who was observing the pilot as the representative from the USARC operations directorate.
Soldiers in the pilot program currently have access to dietitians, psychologists, physical therapists, doctors, and nurses during this two-week training. Soldiers are receiving one-on-one consultations with health care professionals as well as group training throughout the program.
The PRET program, which is run with drill sergeants, was a natural fit for the Performance Triad pilot.
“The drill sergeants are very supportive of the Performance Triad training,” said Sumovich.
“These drill sergeants are not like basic training,” states Pfc. Ramon Montenegro, 459th Transportation Company from Altenburg, Illinois.
“I feel that they really are here to help us and build us up,” continued Montenegro.
While a focus on exercise and nutrition is nothing new to the Army, the Performance Triad puts a new emphasis on the importance of sleep hygiene.
“The U.S. Army is probably one of the worst offenders when it comes to under estimating the importance of sleep,” states Davis. “We need to learn to teach our soldiers how to store sleep prior to the mission. Then how to weave in naps or longer periods of sleep for soldiers when the mission dictates that they can do so,” explains Davis.
Davis suggests several habits that can improve sleep hygiene, to include making sure that you have a cool room, muffling background noise with a fan, and turning off your phone at night to stop late-night interruptions.
“Use the bed basically for two elements only: For sex and for sleep. It is not there for you to watch TV. It is not there to sit all night worrying about the next day. If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed. Go to a chair and read until you feel like you are sleepy and then you go back to bed,” suggests Davis.
Participants in the Performance Triad Pilot Program will be monitored and reevaluated throughout the year. The triad will then be implemented throughout the Army Reserve.
“We truly believe that this is something that the entire Army will embrace,” said Davis.