Fueling mission-ready Air Commandos

Photo By Airman 1st Class Robyn Hunsinger | Greg Wagner, a store associate for the Hurlburt Field Commissary, restocks oranges in the commissary on Hurlburt Field, Florida, Sept. 3, 2020. The commissary is one of the many facilities on the installation annually evaluated by the Health and Wellness Center for healthy food options to sustain combat-ready Air Commandos and their families. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Robyn Hunsinger)



Story by Airman 1st Class Robyn Hunsinger 

1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs 

The Hurlburt Field Health and Wellness Center began conducting the annual assessment of the installation’s overall nutritional health in September, continuing until November.

Each year, the HAWC team forms a working group consisting of volunteers from across the base to help conduct assessments using the military nutrition environmental assessment tool to gauge the Hurlburt Field community’s nutrition rates. Once the team has collected the data, they formulate an improvement plan to better Hurlburt Airmen’s overall health and well-being before presenting their findings to base leadership.

“This is a program in all the branches across the (Department of Defense),” said Sandra Demezzo, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Hurlburt Field HAWC. “Our environment plays a key role in our health. If we have the availability of healthy foods, we are more likely to eat those healthy foods. The same can be said about unhealthy foods.”

To sustain a fit and fighting force, leadership across the installation has implemented policies to limit unhealthy foods and promote healthier options.

“There is not another base out there with as much leadership support that we have here,” said Brent Cowen, a health promotion coordinator with the Hurlburt HAWC. “This is a priority to keep our Airmen healthy and ready for anything they may face.”

The HAWC’s mission is to promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors to decrease preventable diseases in the Hurlburt Field community. They focus on creating a fit and ready force through a “One team, One fight” approach to disease prevention and health promotion. This is a community project to sustain healthier lifestyles for a more capable force.

“In regards to the four pillars of resilience,” Demezzo said. “The mental and physical have to do with our nutrition. If we have healthier options for our Airmen, we will have a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.”

To keep performing at full capabilities, Airmen need to be in peak mental and physical condition. The demands imposed by training and missions require appropriate nutritional habits and interventions so that, under the most rigorous conditions, performance is optimized, and health is preserved.

“Overall, here and there, we have seen improvements,” said Demezzo. “Every year, we make small changes to have more healthy options available to improve our members’ fitness. We work to make healthy foods available to our members, so it is convenient for them to eat healthy foods.”

The health and wellness professionals aim to promote better physical resilience to the entire Hurlburt Field community, starting at the lowest level through nutrient-rich foods to create combat ready Air Commandos. The coordination of this program with local commanders and their units can help maintain the military’s healthy lifestyle.

“This is not about having 100% healthy foods,” Demezzo said. “We still want our members to be able to make their own choices. We are not aiming to take away options but to increase healthy choices.”

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