Top Army NCO promotes ‘complete fitness’ to Soldiers

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SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii: Sergeant Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, the Army's senior noncommissioned officer, visited with Soldiers, leaders, and family members serving here, June 3.

As part of a three-day tour of the military bases on-island, Preston visited many places to speak with Soldiers, including Tripler Army Medical Center, Fort Shafter and the U.S. Army Hawaii Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

During his tour of Schofield Barracks, Preston talked about the Army's plan for the continued complete fitness and well-being of Soldiers, and stressed the importance of mental fitness for today's Soldier in presentations to noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted.

"We've focused for decades on physical fitness to prepare for combat and now we're focusing on the mental side," said Preston.

"The stigma against getting help with mental health lies on both Soldiers and leaders," said Preston. "We've done a lot to educate the leaders on this, now we're working to eliminate the stigma on the Soldier's side."

Preston assured Soldiers there is no shame in seeking mental health if needed and there would be no negative impact on the careers of those who employ methods to maintain mental fitness. According to Preston, the challenges Soldiers face after deployment, such as mental health concerns, can be remedied through use of the Army programs for mental and physical fitness.

"Our leaders want to build strength and resiliency before problems surface and we do that with the Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program," said Preston.

The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program focuses on strengthening five separate, yet related, dimensions of a Soldier's health to provide a "complete" fitness level: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and family.

A key component of CSF is the Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, which is used to help identify any deficiencies in a Soldier's five dimensions of mental health prior to and after deployment.

"The Army wants every servicemember and family member to take the Global Assessment Tool once a year so they can determine what their weaknesses and strengths are on the five dimension of fitness so they can improve themselves," Preston said. "The GAT helps you see yourself and over time show you the changes in yourself."

Equally important to the complete fitness of Soldiers, according to Preston, is educating leaders about the importance of resiliency.

"A master resilience trainer is a subject matter expert who helps servicemembers change how they look at problems and challenges," said Preston.

"The Army offers a master resiliency training course -- a ten day course -- which teaches senior noncommissioned officers the resiliency principles to come back and teach other noncommissioned officers and Soldiers," he continued.

With the continued effort of Army leaders on the many aspects of Soldiers' health, Preston hopes the complete fitness of Soldiers will continue to improve, despite the conditions in which they may serve.

"We want a Soldier to come back stronger having faced adversity in combat and we want to do the same thing with the other aspects of fitness," Preston said.


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