New Wellness Center at Carlisle Barracks

Army’s Wellness Center at Carlisle Barracks opens doors to military retirees, others with valid military ID

In this age of benefit cuts, the Army at Carlisle Barracks will begin offering a new free benefit on Monday to anyone in the midstate with a valid military identification card. Military retirees and their families, National Guard and Reserve members and their families, and Department of Defense civilians all can use the Army Wellness Center, just inside the post’s main entrance off North Hanover Street in Carlisle.  The key word is Wellness.


 The Army is opening up a new Wellness Center at Carlisle Barracks. The center helps soldiers and retirees, their families, and Department of Defense civilians build and sustain good health. This is one of the devices that measures functional movement in the fitness assessment room. 09/12/2012 DAN GLEITER, The Patriot-News Wellness Center at Carlisle Barracks. The center helps soldiers and retirees, their families, and Department of Defense civilians build and sustain good health. This is one of the devices that measures functional movement in the fitness assessment room. 09/12/2012 DAN GLEITER, The Patriot-News


The Army is embracing the same concept of wellness to prevent disease — and cut costs — that the corporate world and other parts of government have been on to for years now, said Col. Stephanie Wilcher, director of the Dunham Army Health Clinic at Carlisle Barracks. But instead of limiting the center to the active Army soldiers who live on the post and their families, the Army is taking the big-tent approach.
The midstate has a boatload of people who carry some form of military ID, besides those on active duty.
Barracks and U.S. Army War College spokeswoman Carol Kerr said an estimated 51,000 military retirees live in Pennsylvania. Several thousands call the midstate home and already depend on the post to buy their food at the commissary and everything else at the Post Exchange.

Now, the wellness center will give them more reasons to come, such as biofeedback, stress reduction and learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep the pounds off by eating and exercising right.
Wilcher said folks don’t already have to be enrolled in the military’s health care system — known as Tricare — or be registered with the Veterans Administration to use the center. All they need is that military ID card, and an appointment. The center won’t accept walk-ins.

Carlisle Barracks is just the third Army post in the country to get a wellness center, after Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Hood, Texas, where the centers opened in 2011. Center Director Cory Erhard, one of six civilians staffing the North Middleton Twp. center, said the Army plans to eventually locate wellness centers on all major active Army installations nationwide, including Fort Meade, Md. The goal is a consistent standard of wellness no matter where a soldier and his or her family is stationed, he said. The center’s outreach will extend beyond serving the ID-card carrying community outside the post. Erhard said a mobile version of the center will offer screenings and services to students at Cumberland-Perry Vocational Technical School. The school was chosen because it takes in students from a cross-section of area school districts.  Kerr said the Army picked Carlisle Barracks to be among the first posts to get a center because the Army’s future leaders are here, referring to the U.S. Army War College students who spend a year at Carlisle Barracks to prepare for assignments higher up the Pentagon ladder.

The center is a welcomed addition, in contrast to the threat the barracks and the Army War College have been living under for the past few years due to Pentagon budget cuts.  The Army Physical Fitness Institute — similar in concept to the wellness center but not open to people outside the post — was eliminated and three other institutes downsized. Pentagon budget-cutters proposed closing the Army Heritage and Education Center and moving it to the Washington, D.C., area, but that plan appears to have been abandoned for now and center funding remains intact. “It’s definitely an investment in the Army War College and Carlisle Barracks,” Kerr said of the center. “I think our future looks bright.”

If you go
WHAT: Army Wellness Center at Carlisle Barracks
WHEN: Opens Monday
HOURS: 6:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday
PROGRAMS: Health assessment reviews, development of individual physical fitness programs, nutrition counseling and education, stress management, tobacco cessation and overall wellness education

INFO: To schedule an appointment, call 245-4004.

Working with a Film Crew

I just wrapped up filming with a crew for largest website for kids, with deployed parents, for the DOD Center of Excellence. I worked closely with the producer Jason and the Camera crew who is working on the video portion of the website, where they do a 3-5 minute video that deals with different subjects regarding deployment. This is for a DOD military secure website geared towards kids that have parents that have deployed.  The content is meant for 9-12 year-olds. 
The crew came to Fort Bragg to tape a couple of these episodes, with some very cool Ft Bragg families. He worked on our story that dealt with the issues of deployment.  He read our families story about the difficulties that our family went through after my husband returned home, and how D nominated me for Military Spouse of the Year. Basically I got to tell my story about D’s deployment, and they also talked to Cat and D on how to help families and other kids deal with these issues.
They were so NICE and really awesome, it was AMAZING. I really enjoyed it, it was pretty cool, we got to play act, like he gave us directions on what things to film, I really felt like an actress. Maybe I might want to do that one day in my future! I love it.  All I can remember is Robin Dorff in my head saying “don’t look up to think, it makes you look shifty lol” when I took the IOPL class…. They even played with my kids and B was so sad when they left! He wanted to go with them, the sound guy was pulling quarters of out of Brandon’s ears which he LOVED!

I have been asked what can America do for military families…

Well my honest answer is pray, be Patriotic, and be Proud to be an American or living in the US. We owe each day of safety and liberty that we enjoy to the members of our Armed Forces and their families. Behind our heroic service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide never-ending support.
During April, May and November we celebrate the outstanding contributions of our military families, and we reaffirm our commitments to these selfless individuals who exemplify the highest principles of our nation. Just as we hold a revered trust to the astonishing Americans willing to lay down their lives to protect us all, there is also a need of commitment to support and engage our military families.
In years past, you could wrap up a care package and mail it to “Any Service Member” for the holidays, but with increased mail restrictions, the Pentagon and USPS is asking people to help through financial contributions, letter-writing and e-mail, purchasing authorized pre-made care packages, or volunteering time through non-profits.  You can go to http://www.ourmilitary.mil and see what you can do.
The holidays in November and December, many military families have children and they need help obtaining toys for their child’s Christmas. Others have need for food and other clothes. With their spouses overseas and lowered income many are in desperate straights. They need sponsors to help these families on a one on one basis and some families are even to proud to ask for help from anyone.
Military families sometimes find that local people may be hesitant to build friendships with them because the locals know the military families will not be living there very long. If military families come through your community, make an effort to get to know them. Your friendship will be greatly appreciated!
Pray for them—and let them know you are praying. Military life adds a lot of extra stress on marriage and family. The fact that you are praying for a family makes a difference, especially when a loved one is sent into harm’s way. They are comforted to know that you are there to support them in any way possible. Let them know you appreciate the sacrifices they make.
If you live in a community near a military installation, your local group can become an important resource for military families. But do they know you exist? Try to make your group as visible as you can. If you have a local newspaper (especially if the military base has one), consider running periodic ads inviting military families to participate in your events.

When any family moves, it is often a blind relocation to a new area. Moving as often as some military families do, it becomes a seemingly endless process of finding resources in their new communities to meet their growing needs. When local families share these inside tips with new military families, it helps them settle into their new homes much quicker.
I think by offering job opportunities to military spouses and really good ones not just working at the local Wal-Mart, or Mall will do it. There are a lot of spouses out here with a good solid education and experience, and still we have no way to showcase our talent.
Write a letter of support to the families, a written personal letter goes along way to say Thank You. Not just verbal that is OK but a written letter of support means so much more in these days where mail is almost non existence. So you can go visit www.bluestarfam.org and click on Operation Appreciation. That is a wonderful program that helps write those letters. Also awards, not just Certifications of Appreciation unless they actually mean something, and there is a ceremony, but actually Department of Defense Awards or Congressional Awards.
Just being Patriotic, fly those American Flags that we fight so hard to defend. Be Proud to be an American. The US Constitution was written for a reason to protect the people and get away from oppressors. I think that it will upset some people, some people take the liberties of living here in the US for granted. There are countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, who don’t have a constitution, violate people’s basic human rights, and really don’t care. It seems that some people in the US aren’t proud to be American. Be glad the 1st Amendment is there, because in other places you can get killed for saying some of the things they say.
We take things for granted especially freedom, and when it’s gone it’s gone. I understand war isn’t always the answer but I couldn’t imagine living in a country where I could get killed for not liking the government.

Those are a few things that I think Americans can do to help support.