Comprehensive Soldier Fitness

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THE Army has always emphasized physical fitness as a large part of its training, but has not always focused as extensively on mental, emotional and social well being as it does today. The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program will provide the missing link, teaching Soldiers to become more resilient in five aspects of total fitness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family strength.

CSF is an Army of balanced and healthy Soldiers, families and civilians, whose total fitness will help them thrive in a high-tempo era of persistent conflict, according to the CSF vision. Army leaders believe an emotionally and physically healthy force will result in a reduction in rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, indiscipline, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, suicide and absences without leave.

The program will be linked with the Army career tracker and the requirement for guided self-development, said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of CSF.

"It is a strategy to try and bring the same amount of attention to people's spiritual, emotional and social fitness as we have historically done in the Army to physical fitness," she explained.

CSF, stood up in October 2008, is developing a "global assessment tool," which will assess all five elements of Soldier fitness, Cornum said. Assessments will help create resilience training that can be tailored to the individual.

"We have a study ongoing right now at Fort Jackson. It's teaching (resiliency techniques) as part of basic training. Teaching not just the mental aspect of it, but the physical part-deep breathing, visualization about what will happen, so (they are teaching) the mental and intellectual aspects as well as the physical," Cornum said.

Resiliency techniques have resulted in measurable improvements, she continued, adding that the Navy provides 45 minutes of resilience education a week during basic training. The results are improved graduation rates and decreased rates of psychological discharges.

"The same training would be applicable to civilians and family members and we certainly intend to offer it," Cornum added.

Cornum, a medical doctor who holds doctorates in both nutrition and biochemistry, believes resilience training will help with something she calls "post-traumatic growth"-mentally reframing an adverse situation so it does not become traumatic.

Resilience training will help an individual look at more optimistic and realistic choices, rather than falling into negative thought processes, she explained. …