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(Enlarge) (Left to right) Col. Danny B.N. Jaghab, commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Meade, and Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center; Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin; Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski; Maj. Gen. Dean G. Sienko, commanding general, U.S. Army Public Health Command; Rep. John Sarbanes; and Garrison Commander Col. Brian P. Foley cut the ribbon to officially open Fort Meade's new Army Wellness Center on Monday. (Photo by Noah Scialom)

A cold rain did not dampen the enthusiasm for the ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened Fort Meade's new Army Wellness Center on Monday morning.

Located in part of Building 4418 on Llewellyn Avenue, the site of the Medal of Honor Memorial Library, the AWC operates under the aegis of the Preventive Medicine Services Division at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.

The facility offers free, holistic health services to help service members, their family members, retirees and DoD civilians to build and sustain a healthy lifestyle and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Col. Danny B.N. Jaghab, commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Meade, and Kimbrough, was joined by Maj. Gen. Dean G. Sienko, commanding general, U.S. Army Public Health Command, Garrison Commander Col. Brian P. Foley, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and Rep. John Sarbanes in making brief remarks at the ceremony.

"I'm really honored to have the responsibility for delivering programs through this center that will help service members and their families, retirees and DoD civilians build and sustain good health," Jaghab said. "Our Army is committed to developing a team of physically fit and psychologically strong Soldiers, families and civilians who have the resilience and total fitness that enables them to meet the Army's mission today."

Fort Meade's AWC is the Army's 16th operational Army Wellness Center and is a program of the U.S. Army Medical Command. The AWCs are overseen by the Army Public Health Command.

The hourlong ceremony at Fort Meade began with a musical prelude and the National Anthem by the U.S. Army Field Band's clarinet quartet, and the invocation by Chaplain (Maj.) James P. Covey, Fort Meade's Family Life Ministry chaplain.

After remarks by the distinguished guests, Jamie Valis, director of the new Army Wellness Center, led a tour of the facility.

"It's definitely an exciting time," Valis said after the tour. "We are honored to be a part of the Army's mission for Army Wellness Centers."

In his remarks, Sienko said wellness is "the cornerstone that will help our Army and our nation transfer from a health care system to a system for health."

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho has made this transition a top priority, Sienko said, along with preventive medicine.

"As a nation and Army, we must comprehensively, boldly and innovatively embrace prevention and invest in a public health approach to health," Sienko said. "This is our most promising path to a healthy population. A robust system of Army Wellness Centers is critical to this end-state."

Sienko said the Public Health Command has conducted two studies of AWCs and has found that the health of clients has improved in their body mass index, body fat, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, resting heart rate, blood pressure and aerobic capacity.

"Data are accumulating that these centers work," Sienko said. "They make people healthier. They will prevent chronic diseases and improve quality of life."

Before introducing Mikulski, Foley noted Fort Meade's selection as one of three Army bases to participate as a pilot installation in the DoD's Healthy Base Initiative. (See sidebar).

Mikulski, who was instrumental in ensuring that Fort Meade was included in the initiative, said the new AWC will "help our military and their families be fit for duty and develop the resiliency habits and know-how that they need to be the best fighting force and the best family support that they can be."

Cardin spoke of the congressional delegation's commitment to "deal with the health of the people who serve in our military.

"What's here at Meade will be a model for our nation," Cardin said. "... We believe that this is the future of health care and it's right here at Meade."

Sarbanes emphasized the importance of prevention in health care.

"For too long, too much of our health care system was about treating people after they're already sick, instead of keeping them well on the front end," he said. "Having an Army Wellness Center that will focus on fitness, nutrition and stress management, and all these things that are a part of healthy living will make a tremendous difference for the Soldiers and their families."

The AWC provides a standardized core of health services: a health assessment review, which is an analysis of the patient's health status, risk for disease and ability to exercise safely; physical fitness testing and exercise prescription; healthy nutrition using metabolic testing to provide individualized strategies for weight loss, gain or maintenance; stress management using biofeedback to reduce stress; general wellness education through classes on topics such as healthy lifestyles, increased resiliency and self-care; and tobacco education using assessments to determine an individual's readiness to become tobacco-free.

Valis leads a staff of health educators, a nurse educator and a health promotion technician. The staff provides the core health services and follow-up.

The tour included a view of the center's equipment for metabolic testing, a BOD POD to measure body mass, a health assessment room and a biofeedback room.

The center, which is located in the back of the library, also includes a reception area and office space for staff.

Service members, and their family members, retirees and Army civilian employees can make an appointment at the center at 301-677-2006 or can be referred by their unit or a physician at Kimbrough.

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