A recent report to Congress by the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) on military readiness and resilience estimated that seven in 10 young people would not qualify for military service due to unhealthy weight and other factors. Additionally, obesity, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse pose a significant challenge to the health of current service members. While there is considerable investment in healthcare, programs, and services for active duty service members residing on military bases, the Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes the need for increased support for service members who do not reside on military installations and for those in the Reserve forces and National Guard. Many of these service members rely on community supports and programs to help meet their health and economic needs.
Earlier this year, DoD launched a pilot project to help them better understand the resource challenges affecting the health, readiness, and resiliency of its population. The pilot, Building Healthy Military Communities (BHMC) is taking place in seven states: Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, and New Mexico. DoD has conducted rapid needs assessments in these states and are in the process of finalizing action plans to meet the top needs identified by the assessments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) understand the importance of this work and have partnered together with DoD to help them connect their work to chronic disease programs in the pilot states. Through this partnership, CDC and the Association have been able educate high-level military personnel on upstream, evidence-based interventions for physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco cessation and prevention. This pilot represents the first time that DoD has invested in a coordinated public health approach across the uniformed branches. If successful, it could pave the way to increased funding for more upstream policy, systems, and environmental approaches to health and wellbeing in military communities across the nation.
For more information, contact Catherine McCann.