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Get Motivated to Guard Your Health

The Kansas Army National Guard (ARNG) noticed some of its Soldiers were having a hard time meeting the APFT.

To motivate and get them back on track, SFC Chip Cunningham runs the state’s tactical strength and conditioning program known as the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Course. This two-week program provides Soldiers with physical, nutritional, and mental training to develop healthy skills and habits. By improving their health and wellness, Soldiers can change their lifestyle for the better and increase their APFT score.

“We wanted to inspire action,” Cunningham said. With every lesson comes homework. Soldiers learn to build workouts and build grocery lists. They practice cooking. The point, Cunningham said, is to realistically prepare them for when they return home.

“They taught me how to take care of myself,” said PV2 Veronica Withee. She was gaining weight and was struggling to pass the APFT —“I kept failing PT test after PT test,” she said. Then she participated in the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Course which gave her more confidence and motivation. This in turn helped her pass her APFT and stay in the Guard.

Cunningham’s program also positively impacted SSG Randall Milleson’s career. The 17-year Kansas Guardsman said his self-esteem was crushed each time he didn’t pass the APFT and it began affecting the way he led his unit. Once Milleson participated in the program, he learned how to care for himself mentally and guard his health.

“We have responsibility to make sure that we’re helping others guard their health,” Cunningham said. “Motivation is contagious. So if I can do my part here and motivate just one Soldier, and then they can go back to their unit and maybe motivate just one more, eventually it’s going to start to get to the point where guarding our health is becoming part of our culture, and that’s where we want to get to.”

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