When new requirements are rolled out across the Air Force, it is not always easy for them to be properly implemented right away. Hard work and dedication from Airmen ensures that these changes are integrated smoothly and successfully.
At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., a working group of 10 personnel from the 355th Medical Group came together to find a way to facilitate support for unit commanders and body composition managers as they implement the new body composition testing requirement within their units.
“A team was established to help develop a program guide for commanders on base as it is a commander led and run program,” said Nikki Varela, 355th Medical Group health promotion dietitian. “The team worked on developing the Commander’s Guide to High-Risk Body Composition for Davis-Monthan AFB to provide steps for success for commanders and Airmen, as well as providing a list of available resources here on DM.”
The team included the health promotion coordinator, a dietitian, strength and conditioning coach, social worker, disease manager and other medical professionals who applied a wide range of expertise to this project.
This working group included discussions regarding what resources are available for Airmen, how they can be used by commanders and Airmen, and the best direction to standardize the process within the MDG when high-risk members present for an evaluation.
“While the administration of the body composition assessment has been directed to unit commanders, we knew that local guidance was needed to help commanders understand the resources available to their members locally,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James Tschudy, 355th MDG chief of medical staff. “The team created a “wellness passport” as a way that commanders and MTF [Medical Treatment Facility] providers could identify requirements and recommendations tailored to each member in order to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to wellness. The passport included the MTF medical evaluation required by the new body composition program guidance as well. This will help units track when members have completed their required visits and services.”
The new evaluation will be a waist-to-height ratio measurement conducted by their unit. This evaluation is in accordance with DOD Instruction 1308.03, which requires that each military service establish standards to measure body composition as one component of ensuring physical fitness of service members. The health passport created by the working group establishes DM recommendations, defines resources and gives additional information to commanders that are responsible for this program.
“Hopefully, Airmen will be healthier because of this,” Tschudy said. “Airmen will be empowered to create improvement plans that will suit their needs. The new evaluation maintains accountability for those changes because members will be tracked by their units. There is the potential to create a real culture of wellness at DM if leaders at all levels and members embrace this opportunity.”
Fitness is essential in order for Airmen to continue to be resilient and ready. This evaluation is just one tool to ensure that Airmen are fit to fight.