The soldiers of the 188th Infantry Brigade took a break from their usual missions to attend training at Fort Stewart’s Moon Theater last month in support of the First Army Division East Wellness Campaign.
The program, which is referred to as “Do the D.E.W.,” began in October 2009 as a way to promote the total wellness of the division, and it is meant to complement the Department of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program to support the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and family members.
Sgt. 1st Class Tiffany Moore, the master resiliency trainer and D.E.W. coordinator for the 188th Infantry Brigade, said the campaign has been very successful because it builds on knowledge and concepts that already are familiar to soldiers.
“The D.E.W. campaign promotes many of the same concepts and training that we have been doing our entire military careers,” Moore said. “This is just a way for us to pull it all together under a single umbrella and take it to the next level.”
Moore said that throughout the course of a year, the brigade makes sure all of its soldiers receive training in all of the areas the D.E.W. campaign focuses on, including physical fitness, preventative medicine, nutrition, alcohol and substance abuse, managing stress, anger and more.
“With the heavy operational tempo of brigade soldiers, we need to make sure that in their downtime, when they are not at a mobilization site, they focus on their own health and wellness,” Moore said.
During the June 3 training, a health technician from Winn Army Community Hospital taught classes on taking preventative measures to avoid breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as the importance of getting one’s blood pressure checked regularly.
Sgt. Michael Bailey, health technician at WACH, said that breast cancer and prostate cancer should be of particular concern to soldiers because men in the military are three times more likely than their civilian peers to have prostate cancer, and women in the military have a higher incidence of breast cancer than civilians, according to a study conducted by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Bailey said that the best method for surviving these types of cancers is early detection.
“Men over 40 should get their prostate checked annually,” Bailey said. “A good time for soldiers to do this is during the periodic health assessment.”
While most men are aware of the serious threat to their health that prostate cancer poses, many would be surprised to learn that they can be afflicted by breast cancer as well.
Male breast cancer is uncommon, so the media largely have ignored it, Bailey said, but men can benefit from doing the same self-examination that women are taught to do. He then demonstrated how to do an exam and recommended that men and women do so when they shower or bathe.
The final topic Bailey focused on is high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a silent killer that affects 60 percent of Americans,” Bailey said. “If left untreated, it can lead to a host of health complications, including heart failure, enlarged left side of the heart, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure and retinal damage.”
Bailey attributed his statistics to research conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.
The best way to detect hypertension is to get your blood pressure checked regularly. While one can use the blood pressure machines that are found in the front of gyms and many stores, Bailey said it is best to have a doctor do the blood-pressure check because he or she can ensure accuracy.
In addition, Bailey said there also are many lifestyle choices people can make to control and reduce their risk of developing hypertension, such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing salt and sodium intake, increasing physical exercise, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption and fat intake.
The 188th Infantry Brigade, along with the other training support brigades in First Army Division East, provides and facilitates theater-focused training for deploying National Guard and Reserve units and assists with redeployment and demobilizing following deployment.
Based out of Fort Stewart, the 188th “Battle Ready” Brigade continuously has been training Reserve Component units for deployments since 2003.