WASHINGTON — This month, Army Medical Command released the first-ever Health of the Force, or HOF report. The report provides a snapshot of the health of active-duty soldiers on all major U.S.-based installations in 2014.
The report tallied injuries, behavioral health, chronic disease, obesity, tobacco use, sleep disorders, hospital admissions, and other health measures across 30 Army installations. Key performance triad measures of sleep, activity and nutrition were also tracked. The result was the creation of an overall installation health index, according to the report.
Some of the highlights of the report:
Medical readiness was not achieved by 17 percent of soldiers. One-third of those not medically ready were soldiers with overdue dental or medical exams.
Injuries affect nearly 300,000 soldiers annually. Some individuals experience multiple injuries in a single year, impacting personal readiness and increasing the burden on medical systems. Approximately 1,295 new injuries per 1,000 soldiers were diagnosed in 2014.
About 15 percent of soldiers had a diagnosed behavioral health disorder. Among behavioral health diagnoses, adjustment disorder, mood disorders and anxiety disorders were most common.
About 14 percent of soldiers had one or more diagnosed chronic conditions. Cardiovascular conditions were the most common condition assessed, followed by arthritis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Obesity remains a concern for military readiness as 13 percent of soldiers were classified as obese during Army Physical Fitness Tests.
Approximately 32 percent of soldiers reported tobacco use. That includes both smoking and smokeless tobacco.
About 10 percent of soldiers had a diagnosed sleep disorder.
Approximately 2 percent of soldiers had a diagnosed substance abuse disorder.
Around 16.7 chlamydia infections were reported per 1,000 soldiers.
The Global Assessment Tool, or GAT data, suggest that soldiers could improve their personal health readiness through changes in their sleep, activity and nutritional habits. No installations reached the current targeted score of 85 or above out of 100 possible points on sleep, activity, or nutrition.
Additionally, a cross-section of 2014 GAT data revealed that only 15 percent of soldiers met the recommended target for sleep, 38 percent met the target for fitness, and 13 percent met the target for nutrition.
READINESS IS THE NO. 1 PRIORITY
The HOF report mentions that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley has said readiness of the force is a priority for him.
Immediately after his swearing in as the Army’s new chief, Aug. 14, the general made it clear just how important readiness is.
“If we do not maintain our commitment to remain strong, in the air, on the sea, and yes, on the ground, we will pay the butcher’s bill in blood, and we will forever lose the precious gift of our freedom,” he said. “As your chief of staff, I will ensure we remain ready as the world’s premier combat force. Readiness to fight and win — ground combat — is and will remain the U.S. Army’s No. 1 priority. And there will be no other No. 1. We will always be ready to fight today, and we will always prepare to fight tomorrow.”
Many of the shortfalls identified in the HOF report are in areas that soldiers can address individually, as part of improving their own personal readiness. Personal readiness contributes to the readiness of the Army.
Now-retired Army Surgeon Gen. Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho stated in the report’s preface: “As leaders, we must have the knowledge and resources to influence cultural change that best facilitates personal health readiness and creates environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
“The ‘Health of the Force Report’ is the Army’s first attempt to review, prioritize, and share best health practices at the installation level. Senior Army leaders now have the ‘Health of the Force’ to track the health of the Army, installation by installation, and to share lessons learned for those installations on different ends of the health spectrum,” she added.