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NEWS | April 5, 2023

Readying Soldiers -- One Soldier at a Time

By Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Harlow 81st Readiness Division

Soldiers representing more than 10 units across four states have gathered at the 81st Readiness Division headquarters for the 2nd annual Holistic Health and Fitness summit. The summit, hosted by the sole H2F team in the Army Reserve, is a three-day event packed with information and activities to help Soldiers establish and maintain a total-health version of themselves.

The summit is catered toward two groups of Soldiers: ones who may have been flagged for being out of compliance with military standards, and ones who will take the information back to their units in a trainer, or H2F lead capacity. Both groups will be actively participating in all facets of the training.

“There are five domains of education: physical readiness, nutritional readiness, sleep readiness, mental readiness, and spiritual readiness,” said Maj. Rachel Waring, the Holistic Health and Fitness Program Manager here. “The first day we really hit each and every domain and we give the Soldier an idea of how it helps them as an individual. You can’t just focus on physical readiness and working out. You have to work on your sleep, mental, nutritional habits, and even spiritual readiness to be at your top performance,” Waring said.

The information presented at last year’s summit was taken to heart by many of the participants, who went back home and adjusted their lifestyles to accommodate what they’d learned during the 3-day event.
“With the last summit we had 87 Soldiers attend, but only 35 of them were flagged,” Waring said. “Twenty of those attendees reported a combined weight loss of 75 pounds, passing their Army Combat Fitness Test, practicing the domains, and sleeping better. We had one Soldier who lost 30 pounds and stopped drinking completely, so we’re noticing wins in the small populations we’ve worked with,” Waring exclaimed.

Participants in the current summit are hoping to foster similar results for themselves and their troops.

“I have seen firsthand the benefits the H2F program can provide,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mackneil Ramos with the 302nd Medical Detachment. “It can and will change your life for the better. If we, as leaders, take this initiative to heart and implement what is being taught, then our Soldiers, personally and professionally, will be stronger,” Mackneil said.

Soldiers participating in the H2F summit not only have the support of the summit personnel, but they also have the encouragement from senior leadership within the Army Reserve.

“Army Reserve Soldiers need to be physically, mentally, and spiritually fit,” said Maj. Gen. Robert D. Harter, 81st Readiness Division Commanding General. “The H2F program assists in building resiliency and toughness, enabling our Soldiers to better meet the demands of the Army Reserve and, to be honest, the demands of life,” said Harter.
The small but mighty Army Reserve Holistic Health and Fitness team enlisted the help of local drill sergeants to assist in completing this summit, but they are also eager to take their team on the road. If Soldiers can’t make it to train in-person at Ft. Jackson, they want to venture to the Reserve units to train them.

“In the future we plan to expand the summit,” said Waring. “As a mobile training team, we’d like to be able to go out to units, upon their request, and provide tools and resources for them. We want units to know that we can come to them. Our goal is the train H2F leads, Master Fitness Trainers, and Master Resiliency Trainers so that they can host their own summits and do their own training events,” said Waring.

“We are using this summit to both inform Soldiers on the benefits of H2F and to capture their input on the best way ahead for the Army Reserve,” said Harter. “Feedback from the end user – the Soldier, is critical to building an H2F program that meets the needs of the Army Reserve,” Harter stated.

The H2F team provides support to, and tracks the progress of, Soldiers after they leave the summit. Offering sustained support can be a vital factor in the success of Soldiers consistently putting into effect the skills they’ve learned after returning home.

“I want the Soldiers to know what resources are available to them including the H2F team here and professional staff in Troop Program Unit status across the region. They’ll gain use of the H2F mobile application, which has several features including workouts, nutrition information, and mental health resources,” Waring stated.

Soldier readiness is an individual responsibility, but it helps tremendously when there is the support of a team, comrades, and leadership.
“We have engaged professionals and educators and support from the 81st RD, which is extremely beneficial to our mission. We would love to do this every day with all Soldiers, but we’re starting here with the Soldiers we have,” Waring regarded.