What is Physical Readiness?

This blog is courtesy of Capt. Ken Huenink, the Missouri National Guard state Fitness Coordinator.

Soldiers at the Operational Fitness Trainer Course at Ft. Hood learn how to use the TRX suspension system. Operational Fitness Trainer Course instructors emphasized the traditional lack of muscular strength – as opposed to muscular endurance – training found in most unit programs.

What is physical readiness?  “Run farther, faster.”  For decades this was the fitness mantra of the U.S Army.  Copious amounts of long distance running sprinkled with repetitive muscular endurance exercises were the keys to fitness.  It is 2011, and, undoubtedly, a paradigm shift has finally occurred.  It is a good day to be a Soldier.
The Physical Readiness Training (PRT) manual (TC-3-22.20) defines physical readiness as “the ability to meet the physical demands of any combat or duty position, accomplish the mission, and continue to fight and win.”  How do we best train to meet the demands of any combat or duty position?  We must balance the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, posture, stability, speed, and power.  The days of focusing almost solely on aerobic conditioning and muscular endurance are over.  We are now training Soldiers more like professional athletes.

How do we achieve this balance of physical skills?  Programming must be unbiased, progressive, and cyclic.  What does this really mean for 90 percent of us?  Stop running and doing push-ups all the time and mix it up a little!  Physical readiness means becoming at least minimally competent at things like sprinting, climbing, jumping, combatives, and lifting heavy objects.  More of these skills will be formally tested if the proposed APRT is approved.  It will include new events such as the shuttle run (agility, speed), long jump (power, coordination, balance), and the rower (flexibility, muscular endurance).

The great thing about this “well rounded” approach is the training is less repetitive, which makes it not only more fun, but easier on your body (reduces overuse injuries).  The PRT manual is a great place to start.  But like any manual, it is only a guide.  It has a finite number of sample workouts.  I encourage everyone, especially those in the National Guard who often do most of their workouts “off-duty” to look at other resources also.  Numerous internet and video based functional fitness programs offer balanced routines, many using little to no equipment.

I get it; some people really like to run.  Others really like to lift weights.  That is great!  But human beings tend to repeat the activities we excel at and enjoy.  Just remember your job requirements and responsibilities as a Soldier require you to be a bit of a generalist rather than a specialist when it comes to physical readiness.  So work on your weaknesses.  Besides, variety is the spice of life.

For more information on fitness programs and other physical resiliency topics, visit www.moguard/physical-resiliency.

What is physical readiness?

ADT IV Senior Enlisted Adviser, SMSgt Jerry Blankenship, hitting a tire with a sledge hammer as part of his functional fitness routine in Afghanistan. Once only a distance runner, SMSgt Blankenship now possesses outstanding skills in all areas of fitness.

One humbling experience

Today’s guest blog comes from Sgt. Jon E. Dougherty, with the 70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

As a member of the Missouri National Guard, I’ve had many humbling experiences.

Most of them have come from helping people in need, whether in the form of assisting Missourians victimized by natural disaster, or helping to protect Afghan citizens victimized by extremists.

But since helping people in their hour of need is the cornerstone of the National Guard’s mission, no one knows how best to do that than Guard members themselves.

Which brings me to my latest, and perhaps most humbling, Guard experience – the one where the Guard lent me and my family the help and assistance we required in our hour of need.

On May 22, a powerful tornado devastated much of the city of Joplin. Within minutes of the disaster, the Guard was already responding to assist local authorities and officials in rescue and recovery efforts. Less than 24 hours after the tornado hit, hundreds of Guardsmen were either on the ground in Joplin or heading there. I was one of them, part of a public affairs team sent to record and document the recovery efforts.

A few days later my son, Zachary, sent me a text message informing me that he and elements of his unit, the 1140th Military Police Company, were being ordered to state emergency duty in Joplin, to assist local authorities in ongoing recovery operations. They arrived at Camp Crowder, south of Joplin, on the evening of the 26th, and began to convoy into the stricken city the next morning.

As they approached Joplin at sunrise, a civilian vehicle accidently came to close to the Humvee my son was driving and nearly collided with him. In an attempt to avoid that collision, Zach swerved and lost control, rolling his vehicle several times before it finally came to rest on the opposite side of the highway.

Fortunately, no one was killed but he and one of his teammates, Spc. Zach Knowles, sustained serious leg and hip injuries. Their team leader, Sgt. Aaron Edmonds, injured his wrist and shoulder.

As civilian medical teams rushed all three Soldiers to Freeman Medical Center, the only remaining hospital in Joplin, my commander, Maj. Tamara Spicer, state public affairs officer, was being notified the accident had occurred. When we learned that Soldiers from the 1140th were involved, Maj. Spicer – knowing my son was among those troops – immediately found out who they were and told me.

Much of what happened over the next several hours, especially, but also the next several days as well, is a blur. This much is clear, however: Without the support of my Guard family, my own family would not have fared as well as it did.

From Maj. Spicer who, as a parent herself, put in motion the orders to get me released from emergency duty and back with my family; to Sgt. 1st Class Parrish Taggart, my public affairs teammate who got me through a storm-ravaged city to the hospital where my son was in surgery; to Col. Wendul Hagler, chief of staff, who approved plans to get my family and my boy together by whatever means necessary; to Maj. Mike Brown, 203rd Engineer Company, a comrade-in-arms in Afghanistan who personally delivered me to the Joplin airport in time to catch a helicopter flight he arranged back to Jefferson City; to Maj. C. J. Thompson and his crew for flying me back to Guard headquarters; and to all my Guard family members who have since contributed in a number of ways – visits, words of encouragement, follow-up – to my son’s ongoing recovery – I thank each and every one of you for what you have done.

My son has had nearly a half-dozen surgeries to repair broken bones and other injuries. Spc. Knowles has had many too and is only now getting to come home from the hospital. It’s unclear what the long-term extent and severity of their injuries will be, but both of them face months of rehabilitation. That said, they are both alive and that is the best outcome all of us could have hoped for.

What has made their recovery all the more remarkable was the manner in which it has been facilitated. Yes, I thank the doctors, surgeons, nurses and physical therapists who have all played a major role in tending to Zach. We are in their debt. But I would be remiss not to recognize the fact that the Guard has been with my son and his battle buddies every step of the way – literally – and continues to walk with them today.

The amount, and quality, of the help our families have received from our Guard family is enough to humble even the proudest person. And since we are all extremely proud to be serving that is quite an accomplishment.

Timing is everything – especially with your health

Our Guest blog is courtesy Maj. Anthony McGinthy, Army National Guard PDHRA Program Manager

Timing is everything when it comes to your health. When you get a cold, the longer you put off visiting the doctor or taking medicine, the worse you feel. The same is true for deployment–related health concerns. The Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) helps give Soldiers peace of mind and an opportunity to receive care.

Army Guardsmen and women must complete the PDHRA within 90 to 180 days post-deployment, because this is when research shows that symptoms of deployment-related health concerns, such as back aches or chronic headaches, may appear. My biggest concern is that thousands of Army National Guard Soldiers are not completing the screening on time or at all. Ignoring the PDHRA altogether is a huge problem. Health issues that aren’t addressed and treated in a timely manner may develop into something more serious and may begin to negatively affect your daily life, family and career.

I’m confident we can do better. We take care of our fellow countrymen and women well, but if we want to continue serving, we can’t continue to neglect our personal health. To learn more about the PDHRA, visit this public website http://goo.gl/zJbZO.

Comprehensive Soldier fitness program

Our guest blog comes from Capt. Denise R. Winters, a Missouri Army Guardsman, who provides a brief overview of her experience attending the master resiliency trainer course and the Kansas flash forward course on resiliency.

The comprehensive Soldier fitness program, which is based on 30-plus years of scientific study and results, uses individual assessments, tailored virtual training, classroom training and embedded resilience experts to provide the critical skills our Soldiers, Family members and Army civilians need, along with Dr. Karen Reivich