CARLISLE BARRACKS, PA -- The Army Wellness and Education Program is set to expand, according to Army officials. The expansion will better prepare individual leaders to manage their personal readiness and influence the health and fitness of those they lead.

The program is housed at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and is part of the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute (APFRI) that studies soldiers at all levels and gauges the fitness readiness of the Army. The program will expand and be taught to the annexes at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), Army Management Staff College, and as part of the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course and the Warrant Officer Course.

After initial pilot testing of the program, more than 91 percent of CGSC students and 95 percent of USASMA students reported that the health and fitness information they received was above and beyond the level they had received in the past. Additionally, 91 percent of the CGSC students rated the APFRI program as critical to the CGSC mission.

“This program identifies the risk factors of individuals as they begin to age and how we link the understanding of health, fitness and leadership," says Col. Tom Williams, the director of the APFRI. “This will help reduce some of the operational fatigue that we recognize will come into play as individuals repeatedly go into a combat deployment time after time.”

The program is needed, Williams says. APFRI has assessed the health and readiness of more than 1,000 students at the Sergeants Major Academy and 220 students at the Command and General Staff College, and found that the students studied had a greater risk of heart disease and premature death than the older students at the War College.

“The pilot tests of APFRI have shown the ability to export the program throughout the Army Educational System but more importantly the need to export it,” Williams says. “This gives us the ability to sustain the force by taking advantage of the professional education year to maintain the optimum health and fitness of soldiers.”

The expanded program will educate senior leaders on their own health and fitness, and enhance their mental and physical readiness, officials say. The program will also better prepare senior leaders and trickle down to promote the health and fitness of the forces they lead, the report says.