How the US Army’s holistic health and fitness program will prevent injuries

It appears the era of “a couple of Motrin should do the trick” could be nearing its end in the Army. 

“My sergeants major right now, they hurt. Their bodies hurt,” Col. Phillip Kiniery, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, told Task & Purpose last week. “I need to make sure that the next group of leaders and senior leaders in the Army don’t feel like I feel physically. That they’re healthy … I wish we thought this way when we were going up.” 

The 4,500-soldier brigade is part of an effort to address injuries early and give soldiers more access to physical and occupational therapy through the Army’s holistic health and fitness program, which was announced in 2017 and officially put into Army policy last year. It focuses on total wellness, not just physical fitness, and urges mental and spiritual wellbeing, getting enough rest, eating well, and, more simply, just taking care of yourself. 

Referred to internally as H2F, the holistic health and fitness program encourages soldiers to take better care of their minds and bodies, not simply push through the pain after an injury, and emphasizes learning how to physically train properly. And at least one brigade commander is hoping that with that kind of change, the next generation of Army leaders won’t have the same kinds of aches and pains as, you know, all of you do. But to do that will require a certain level of humility from leaders. 

Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, utilize the physical training strength and conditioning coaches at the Falcon Holistic Health and Fitness Center (H2F) on October, 18, 2021 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Mallett)

“That’s what I’m fighting every day: ‘We’re the 2nd Brigade, 82nd, we’re going to jump into combat anywhere in the world, we’re the 82nd Airborne Division,’” Kiniery said. “Like hey sergeant, I got it. You can kill anything, you can jump out of every aircraft, but just stop and listen to this strength coach because you’re doing it wrong.” 

While the program could bring positive changes to soldiers everywhere, it will likely be years before it’s implemented Army-wide. There are currently 28 Army brigades — located at Fort Bragg, Fort Drum, Fort Polk, Fort Bliss, and Joint Base Lewis McChord — who have started implementing the holistic health and fitness program. In 2023, the Army will start pushing it out to 10 more brigades a year for the next 10 years.

Kiniery, whose brigade was one of the first Army units to start integrating trainers and health professionals, walked Task & Purpose through the brigade’s training center on Oct. 18. Inside the facility, soldiers can find the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) office, the equal opportunity office, and the chaplain’s office, as well as a sports medicine clinic, nutritionists, and a gym. It serves as a place where “a paratrooper can come to one location … and ideally get

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