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Above left: Soldiers participate in a team-building functional fitness competition March 8 inside the Nash Training Facility. This is part of the 10th Mountain Reception Company’s H2F (Health and Holistic Fitness) Integration Program where in-processing Soldiers learn about H2F resources available at their units and receive instruction on movement fundamentals and injury prevention. Above right: Ben Smith, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade H2F strength and conditioning coach, watches a Soldier’s form on the rower during a functional fitness competition March 8 inside the Nash Training Facility. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

In-processing 10th Mountain Division Soldiers learn basics about Holistic Health and Fitness

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 8, 2023) – Before Soldiers begin their “Climb to Glory” with the 10th Mountain Division (LI), they enter the 10th Mountain Reception Company for 12 days of in-processing activities.

The 10th MRC staff helps newly arrived Soldiers with their transition to Fort Drum, which includes an introduction to the Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) program and the team of dietitians, occupational therapists, and strength and conditioning coaches who are helping to define what readiness means in the Army.

The Fort Drum H2F Integration Program began in June 2022 with the support of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade H2F teams at the Nash Training Facility and 10th MRC Barracks.

“The program focuses on education of H2F resources available to Soldiers, movement fundamentals and injury prevention,” said 1st Lt. Evan Murray, 10th MRC executive officer. “Over the course of 12 days, new Soldiers are brought into the PT (physical training) culture of Fort Drum with daily education coupled with their workouts.”

In addition to several hands-on H2F classes from trainers, Soldiers also receive an injury prevention screening, complete an Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), and participate in a competitive team workout with senior leaders from the 10th Mountain Division (LI).

Maj. Gen. Gregory Anderson, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, participated in the workout March 8 with the in-processing Soldiers.

“H2F is one of the most important things we do here,” he said. “Fitness is not just about strength. It also includes range of motion, flexibility, endurance, agility, and all the things our trainers are teaching us. Pay attention to those techniques because they will serve you through life. The Army is doing physical fitness better now than ever before. We are far more advanced, and the science and technology is there so we can take care our bodies.”

The workout consisted of a 1,500-meter row, 150 burpees, 150 wall balls and then another 1,500-meter row. A team of three second lieutenants finished first to earn the Warhammer trophy, but they said the real prize was the knowledge they have gained through the H2F program.

“I thought this was a phenomenal functional fitness workout, and it was good to get a competition going after focusing on techniques these past couple of days,” said 2nd Lt. Dylian Jackson, with 1st Brigade Combat Team. “I didn’t really know much about H2F before coming here, and now I feel comfortable coming here and knowing that all these resources are available.”

Second Lt. John Salerno said he lifts weights every day in the gym, but H2F is providing him with useful information about injury prevention and physical training techniques he didn’t know.

“This is going to help my own physical fitness and my ability to bring those training aspects to my Soldiers,” he said. “There’s a lot of ways to be fit, and physically fit is a big one, but H2F also focuses on nutrition and mental health. And those are just as important as being able to run two miles, bench two plates or whatever it may be.”

Ben Smith, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade H2F strength and conditioning coach, said changing the Army culture on physical fitness means showing Soldiers that it is a privilege, not a punishment.

“One of the stigmas is that Army PT is a grind session, and that if you’re not sore or suffering then you’re not doing it right,” he said. “I like to take the concepts and methods of PT and show Soldiers the ‘why.’ We show them the purpose and intent of physical training, and go over it in detail, so we can move away from that stigma. If you approach it correctly with the right intent and intensity then you’re going to get the most out of it, instead of feeling torn down all the time.”

The 10th CAB H2F motto is “Wisdom in Strength,” and Smith said that is a lesson he wants to teach new Soldiers.

“We want to show them there is a deeper level of understanding to fitness and physical readiness in general,” he said. “We try to give them a good foundation – making sure they are moving in all the ways human beings are designed to move – and challenging that with load, speed, and intensity. Staying healthy is the goal for a career Soldier, and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey had told Soldiers that physical training may not be the most important thing they do in a single day, but it’s the most important thing they do every day. Smith said that is a mindset that the H2F staff is passionate about.

“That will take time to achieve,” he said. “And in my experience with H2F so far, it’s about us having that presence here and being people who care for Soldiers.”

Murray said that Fort Drum is the only installation to provide in-processing Soldiers with an H2F integration program, and it has been recognized at the TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command) level for its positive impact on troops.

“The program is also the subject of a white paper published through the 10th Mountain Division on the value of early intervention and integration to change physical training culture,” Murray said.

In recent months, the 10th MRC has improved the way new Soldiers integrate into their units and the community. The Keys to Connection Program was established late last year as a spiritual readiness forum to get Soldiers thinking about goals and how they will make the most of their time at Fort Drum. A “Powder Keg” patching ceremony created a formal way for leaders to welcome Soldiers to their units and instill pride in division history and a sense of purpose.

“We’re really proud of how we bring our new teammates into the division and get them set up with everything they need to be successful once they leave the reception company,” Anderson said.