Army Public Health empowers Soldiers, communities

| May 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

Two keys essential to good health goals

Lyn Kukral
U.S. Army Public Health Command Public Affairs Office

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — There are 525,600 minutes in a year.

In those minutes, we work, play, socialize, sleep and conduct all of the activities that make up our lives.

The average Soldier or family member also spends 100 of those minutes with a doctor, nurse or other health care provider.

“We have 100 minutes a year with our patients,” said Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army Surgeon General, pointing out the fact to health care providers at this year’s Military Health System conference. “We focus the majority of our peacetime (health care) budgets on those 100 minutes, but are we truly influencing health?”

Influencing health or more correctly, helping you to be healthier, is where the U.S. Army Public Health Command comes in.

“Army Public Health is all about helping Soldiers and retirees, their families, and Army civilians to build and sustain good health,” said Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, commander, USAPHC.

Keenan emphasized that there are two keys to building good health in what the surgeon general called “the white space” — the time between visits to a health care provider. Those keys are empowerment and prevention.

“One of our command’s goals is to empower our beneficiaries to take greater control of their health,” Keenan said. “We want to give them the tools they need — effective programs and information — so they can reach their health goals.

“We also want them to understand how things like maintaining healthy weight, exercising, not smoking and not drinking to excess contribute to their health,” Keenan added.

The other key, prevention of disease and injury, is the heart of USAPHC’s mission.

“Prevention is better for the individual than even the best healing and rehabilitation Army medicine can provide,” Keenan said. “I don’t know anyone who would rather go to the hospital than stay active and healthy.”

In addition, prevention is better for military units because it ensures higher readiness through fewer lost duty days, and better for the military health care system because it contributes to better stewardship of health care dollars, she explained.

Since its establishment in October 2009, USAPHC has focused its public health efforts on building partnerships. Working with installations, garrisons and military medical treatment facilities, Army public health experts advise commanders and leaders about a broad range of public health initiatives and preventive actions.

“Army Public Health touches so many aspects of our community life that it isn’t a term that can be defined in a sentence or two,” Keenan said.

Some examples of USAPHC’s public health activities include the following:
•If you live on an Army installation, USAPHC helps ensure your drinking water is pure.
•If you shop in a commissary, USAPHC veterinary food inspectors make sure the food you buy is safe to eat.
•If you’re doing physical training with your unit, USAPHC helps develop fitness program standards.
•If you carry an Ask-Care-Escort, or ACE, card in your pocket, that card —and the training behind it — was developed at the USAPHC.
•If you’ve ever sat in a Stryker or used an Army weapon, USAPHC likely tested its design to minimize the health risks from operating it.
•If you use Army-approved vision or hearing devices, USAPHC made sure your goggles and earplugs met high standards of protection.

U.S. Army Public Health Command

USAPHC programs — from Army Wellness Centers to the e-catalog of public health information — help build and sustain the good health of individuals and units in the “white space” between health care visits.

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Category: Army News Service, Community, Health

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