News: Families encouraged to assess their comprehensive fitness
By Tim Shannon
First Army Division East Public Affairs
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. — “The days of the Army telling soldiers that their spouse wasn’t issued in their rucksack are long gone,” said First Army Division East Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez.
The Army considers the soldier’s family as part of the soldier. The family is part of the team and if the team suffers, so does the Army. To use the words of the Army: “The Army is the strength of the nation, the soldier is the strength of the Army and the family is the strength of the soldier.”
“We now realize that for a soldier to be 100 percent focused on the mission, things at home need to be taken care of. They play a huge role in keeping our soldiers fit and combat ready,” Rodriguez explained.
But for families to keep their soldiers fit, they themselves must be taken care of as well. To that end, the Army – and Rodriguez -- encourages families to use the GAT.
The GAT—or Global Assessment Tool – is a web-based survey instrument used to assess the dimensions of emotional, social, spiritual, and family fitness. It is part of the Army’s Comprehensive soldier Fitness program.
“Spouses are an equal part of the Army with their soldier because they take care of the home during deployments; they provide emotional and physical support,” said Rodriguez. “We must make sure our families are taken care of too.”
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is a long term strategy that better prepares the Army community, including all soldiers, family members, and the Department of the Army civilian workforce, to not only survive, but also thrive at a cognitive and behavioral level in the face of protracted warfare and everyday challenges of Army life that are common in the 21st century.
"We want to get more families interested in taking the GAT and … then follow up with the modules that address areas that might help them with improving their resiliency," said Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Family Program Manager Dorothy Benford. "These modules help families become more resilient, which adds to their soldier's resiliency, and hopefully the parents will then pass on to their children the role of resiliency in a military family."
There are four pillars of training within the Comprehensive soldier Fitness program: the GAT, Master Resilience Trainers, Comprehensive Resilience Modules, and Institutional training. The CSF program enhances resilience and reduces barriers to seeking behavioral health care.
“It [the comprehensive fitness program] is an excellent program and the five dimensions of strength, which consist of physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual are complimentary to the things the Army Chaplaincy is doing for the Army,” said First Army Division East chaplain Lt. Col Jason Logan. “In fact our programs are mutually supporting. The counseling we provide clearly assists soldiers with their emotional, family and spiritual needs of soldiers.”
“Good family fitness is an advantage and very influential to Army productivity. The Army is a family of families. The family is the incubator of who and what we become. So goes the family so goes the nation so goes the Army. Statistically, the Army remains for the most part a married Army. The research shows that people who are living in healthy committed relationships live long and do better than those who are alone. Translations, healthy families are an advantage to people and the Army. The family is a resource, a source of strength. The point is the healthier the family the more productive the Army will be,” explained Logan.
Logan agreed with Rodriguez that a soldier’s family plays a big part in that soldier’s overall Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.
“The chaplain believes that good family fitness is an advantage and very influential to Army productivity,” said Logan.
One way Division East tries to take care of families is with the Strong Bonds program.
“The Army Chaplaincy Strong Bonds program has been a real success story. It complements the CSF specifically because it is a relationship enhancing program. Our Strong Bonds program is similar to CSF in that way,” Logan concluded. He encouraged families to contact their unit Chaplin for more information.
First Army Division East, headquartered at Fort Meade, Md., mobilizes, trains, validates deploys and demobilizes Reserve component soldiers to theaters around the world including Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Horn of Africa. Comprised of eight brigades, DivEast ensures soldiers receive the intense training they need to perform hands-on theater-specific operations. When they return home, DivEast members ensure soldiers receive focused-care to ensure standardized and comprehensive demobilization support to resolve physical, mental, administrative and financial issues as well as providing benefits and resources to assist in their transition back to civilian life.