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Victory Center offers innovative approach to health

By Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Wiley | Resiliency | September 19, 2013

It has been three months since Fort Riley's Victory Center first opened its doors, and one Fort Riley first sergeant has a message for other Soldiers – if they're not using the services being offered there, they should be.

First Sgt. Justin Barry, senior enlisted adviser, Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, said he discovered the center by following up on a lead he had about nutrition classes being offered by the Army Wellness Center.

When he went to the Army Wellness Center, he said, he discovered it was in the process of being re-housed under the same roof as the Resiliency Learning Center and the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Center to form the Victory Center – a unique and innovative approach to total Army fitness.

Barry said he also discovered a new diagnostic program being offered at the center entailing a battery of comprehensive metabolic and fitness tests.

Although the Victory Center's ribbon cutting ceremony did not officially occur until June 21, Barry said he was able to get a group of his mediocre physical fitness performers tested June 10, and, he said, he has already seen impressive results.

"I have one Soldier who came to me 24 pounds overweight and 4 percent over body fat," he said. "After getting an accurate measurement of his metabolic rate and where he was at, I was able to adjust his (physical training) program to where he was able to lose 17 pounds in 30 days."

Kendra Seat, Army Wellness Center director, explained the key to the success of the programs offered are their solid foundation in scientific principles.

"If a person tries to lose weight on his own, he's not going to be able to directly determine how many calories his body needs. He may be able to go on the Internet and get an estimate, but we're measuring a person's actual caloric needs by testing how the gases in his body exchange," Seat said.

Barry said he would recommend these tests to every first sergeant, platoon sergeant, squad leader and team leader at Fort Riley.

"We're talking about $3,000 of diagnostic tests offered to any Soldier for free," he said. "The best part about it is that it's also something that spouses can use, and it's totally free to them, too."

As valuable of a tool as the diagnostic tests are for leaders, they are only one of the many services offered by the center.

Seat said the center has six core programs – or pillars: Healthy nutrition, health assessment review, physical fitness, general wellness, stress management and tobacco education.

Under each pillar, the center offers classes and evaluation tools targeted at improving health in that area.

Under the healthy nutrition pillar, the center offers metabolic and bod pod testing, as well as nutrition classes. The health assessment review is an online questionnaire every person who comes to the center takes. Under the physical fitness pillar, the center offers an advanced cardio-respiratory test, as well as strength and flexibility evaluations that are then used by the center's staff to rank a person's fitness level and recommend exercise programs for improvement. Through general wellness, the staff conducts community outreach. Stress management entails a stress relief class and a one-on-one bio feedback session to help implement stress relief techniques. Finally, tobacco education points people toward resources available to them to help them quit using tobacco products.

Soldiers don't have to wait for their leaders to make an appointment with the center for them to take advantage of the services.

Any Soldier, Family member, retiree or Department of the Army civilian can walk into the center and make appointments for one or all of the programs the center offers.

"Our goal is to help the people of the Fort Riley community achieve their goals to become the healthiest people they can be," Seat said.

Barry said as a first sergeant and as an individual, he definitely plans on making maximum use of the center.

"My next step over the next two weeks is to send all of my (noncommissioned officer) leadership there to get a diagnostic of themselves regardless of whether they are a 300 PT guy or 220 PT guy; everybody's going so they can see the tools that are available to them at the individual, team, squad and platoon level," he said.

Leading from the front, Barry said he recently went through the healthy nutrition program himself.

Based on the recommendations of the program, Barry said he has changed some of his own habits.

"I changed my diet just a little bit, and I've already lost six pounds – that's in two-and-a-half weeks, and that's just from changing my diet," he said. "I haven't changed my workout at all." To schedule an appointment with the center, call 785-239-WELL (9355).

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