By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — When considering his weekly safety brief earlier this summer, 1st Sgt. Eddie K. Taylor was looking for something different to present to his troops. Most unit leaders typically utter tried-and-true messages in their final words to Soldiers before heading out for the weekend — don’t drink and drive; don’t enter domestic disputes; consider consequences of your actions.
Though these are all solid safety reminders, Taylor, with Alpha Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was looking for something more impactful and memorable; something Alpha Company Soldiers could take with them as they started their weekend.
Coincidentally, he just so happened to also visit the Army Wellness Center (AWC) at Fort Carson in mid-July 2021.
“(Taylor) is a pretty fit guy, but he was looking to drop his body-fat percentage, so we gave him some information and ideas about the best way to do that,” said Glen Williams, director, AWC.
Taylor was impressed to say the least, so much so that he asked Williams if AWC health educators could possibly speak to Alpha Company Soldiers during their week-ending safety brief, what Taylor refers to as the company’s “Healthy Friday.”
“It seemed like a good fit to me,” Williams said. “Normally, our health educators relay their knowledge during classes at the AWC, but the unit safety brief is a more informal environment. Soldiers are more at ease and feel more comfortable asking questions. And, as it turned out, unit leaders thought our first session went so well that we agreed to speak again at their next Healthy Friday session.”
During their unit talks, AWC health educators expand on several topics, such as injury prevention, proper nutrition, obtaining proper rest and recovery time, reducing stress and using weekend time to improve health and fitness habits.
As a brigade support unit, Alpha Company Soldiers support all logistics aspects for the entire brigade, including load outs, deployments, field operations and anything logistical.
“These are some of the busiest Soldiers in the Army,” Taylor said. “They have day jobs, plus, the Army expects them to also be able to shoot, communicate and perform all of a Soldier’s warfighting functions as well.”
Physically, it’s a demanding job, so maintaining an exceptional fitness level is often more than vital.
“This (Healthy Friday activity) is different from anything I’ve done in other units,” said Sgt. Michael Atkinson, a supply sergeant with Alpha Company, 4th BSB, 1st SBCT. “It’s given us opportunities to learn new things, things many of us hadn’t considered before.”
Tips provided by AWC staff changed the way 1st Lt. Desiree Gotay runs now, she said. Gotay is an executive officer with Alpha Company, 4th BSB, 1st SBCT.
“I consider myself a pretty good runner, but they taught us how to focus on form and use momentum,” she said. “They gave us specific pointers that have made a big difference for me.”
Perhaps more importantly, Gotay explained the Healthy Friday concept seems to put unit Soldiers into a more cheerful mood.
“There’s a kind of energy that bounces around,” she said. “It makes the weekend better. Mentally, it puts you into a better headspace prior to the weekend.”
Taylor said he noticed positive results almost immediately.
“We have less disciplinary issues now following weekend activities,” he said. “In fact, they’ve dropped to nearly zero, and we’ve only been doing this for a little over a month.”
The AWC at Fort Carson is in building 1843 and offers health and fitness testing, classes and health counseling. To learn more about available services and resources call 719-526-3887 or visit https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/healthyliving/al/Pages/ArmyWellnessCenters.aspx. AWC can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FortCarsonArmyWellnessCenter/.