A new partnership between the Virginia Army National Guard and Longwood University is providing hands-on experience to exercise science students while providing the Guard with personnel trained to capture the information needed to help prevent Soldier injuries.
During VAARNG drills in October and November, the students conducted movement screens as part of the Holistic Health Assessment at a Fort Barfoot medical readiness event.
“It is a mutual win as it allows for the students to get hands-on experience and volunteer hours, and it allows us to capture the information we need about the Soldiers to prevent injuries and advocate for further H2F [Holistic Health and Fitness] support,” said Capt. Brian Harder, Holistic Health and Fitness regional coordinator. “The end goal is to create a network of academia that can support the VAARNG around the state, incorporating students majoring in human performance studies to work with Soldiers through movement screening and performance guidance across the five domains of H2F.”
Harder explained that the partnership between Longwood University and the VAARNG came together after an exercise science professor expressed interest in being involved with H2F.
“Tena Ewing has helped teach previous strength and conditioning modules along with our state H2F education,” Harder said.
After Harder created the Holistic Health Assessment and piloted it last year, he quickly realized the manpower needed to complete the movement screening at Physical Health Assessments was greater than H2F could support. That led to a conversation with Longwood about utilizing their exercise science students.
A memorandum of understanding was established in the Spring of 2023 and so far, the students have conducted more than 600 movement screens across two PHAs. They will continue to provide this partnership at all PHAs at Fort Barfoot during the Spring of 2024.
In addition, the partnership with Longwood supports the Virginia National Guard Joint Strategic Plan to increase community partnerships and Campaign Plan 2024 vision, “be physically and mentally fit.”
“By increasing partnerships with local academia, VAARNG can provide more comprehensive assessments that can inform leaders of risks to readiness, such as risk of movement deficits which can lead to injury as well as risk of harmful behaviors across the spectrum of health,” Harder said. “This can lead to upstream prevention and interventions allowing for increased readiness and retention across the force.”
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Holistic Health and Fitness represents a cultural shift in how the Army trains, develops and cares for our Soldiers. H2F addresses the five domains of physical and non-physical readiness (physical, mental, sleep, nutrition, and spiritual) through a comprehensive, integrated system of governance, personnel, equipment/facilities, programming, and education to optimize individual Soldier readiness, reduce preventable injuries, improve rehabilitation outcomes after injury, and ensure our Soldiers are physically and mentally prepared to fight and win our nation’s wars.
For more information about the Virginia Guard H2F program, visit- https://va.ng.mil/H2F/.