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Why Punish Overweight Troops?

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  • Why Punish Overweight Troops?

    Why Punish Overweight Troops?


    The Feb. 1 Health and Science article "Battle of the bulge" suggested that the military needs to change the way it treats those who are overweight. The article featured troops with years of valuable training and experience who passed the athletic measures of their service's fitness standards. These troops are not so fat that they can't do their jobs. But they face discharge because of a bigger waistline than a thinner person with a similar passing grade.

    In 2009, the Defense Department reported that the percentage of overweight service members had more than doubled since 2003. The rate had remained flat in the preceding five years. The military knows that similar upticks for suicide, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are in part caused by the stress of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In an effort to curb suicides, the military has worked hard to eliminate the stigma and the negative administrative actions against troops who seek mental health treatment.

    It's likely that the same deployment stress contributes to weight gain. Yet the military solution to obesity is as unenlightened as the mental health policy was a few years ago. Overweight troops face punitive administrative measures, including getting kicked out of the military, as "incentives" to get thin. These incentives are similar to how the military treats petty criminals and troublemakers: Punish them and get rid of them if they don't reform.

    The military needs a system to help our troops get thin and healthy while not punishing them in the process.

    Tim Crowe, Woodbridge

    The writer is a major in the U.S. Army.

  • #2
    Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

    I do not think that it is pun-ishmnet unless it is directed a such, of course that is subjective. In the last year, as a Career Counselor, I have recieved various directives from my command and up that regard two very important facets of being in the military - the APFT, and Height/Weight. None of the directions I recieved, nor the regulations themselves, require immediate sepration action for those who fall short, or fail, the prescribed standards for being in the military.

    Whethe it is post-deployment issues, or simply butt-stuck-on-the-couch-with-a-video-game-all-hours-of-the-day there are things that are being done to try to salvage the situation. First nothing is immediate, as in you need to drop 20 pounds by next drill or you are out - likewise a record APFT failure has the option to re-test (other than diagnostic) each month, but is not required to submit for a record each month to avoid negative action.

    Normally in my experience one of the above (H/W) has an affect on the other. And I also recognize that working with troops varies from unit to unit and command to command - I have heard some horror stories regarding re-deployed troops who were being harrassed due to missing the mark by a few extra pounds and/or push-ups. There are many military and civilian programs out there that address these issues, so other than regulations spelling out what program to do - they have left a little leeway to commanders.

    It is known and accepted that upon entry into the Armed Forces of the United States that there are standards that must be met - such as a minimum score on the APFT and meeting H/W standards (to include meeting alternate body mass testing if one falls outside the H/W standards). It is not always up to the military to implement a system to ensure that evryone meets the standards - other than ther are already measures in place that can fulfill this problem - which Crowe does not seem to wnat to take the time to identify, as well not all issues of H/W and APFT are due to post-deployment - within this forum alone we have seen posts regarding wieght loss issues just to meet the criteria for enlistment.

    The DoD has also had its ear to the issues similar to this for a long, long time - even as sometimes it seems slow to implement. Such as the school lunch program - the military was turning down a lot of prospective recruits due to malnutrition (mostly stemming from the depression years leading into the WWII timeframe) - so they pushed for this and it was implemented by the our governement. Now the DoD has been working to push changes to the current lunch program to make it more healthy as it is a facet of the many overwieght applicants being turned away now - even as the ARNG is overstrength and highly selective.

    What I have been working with is this - for H/W provide counselling on the issue with included military and civilian resources to assist with identifying and implementing a good health program. As long as in each defined period (normally monthly) progress is shown nothing more needs to be done administratively accept a continuation of working with leadership and the soldier to continue making gains in health and fitness. Normally a maximum time limit is in place of one year (equaly to two bi-annual record APFT's).

    Hooah for Health still exists www.hooah4health.com as well a number of other programs from both the commercial and military. The point of fact is this, if a soldier has issues, and that soldier's leadership counsels and works with that soldier to attain the standards on a continual basis, the issues can be identified and solved (to include other forms of post-deployment assistance if that is part of the problem.

    But this means that for the ARNG leaders and soldiers have to have more interation between drills to ensure any number of issues, to include implementation and continuation of both a health and wellness and physical fitness (physical readiness) plan...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

      Why recruit overweight troops?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

        This has always been an area that bothers me. If a soldier can pass the APFT but fails HT/WT there should be a waiver that clears them IMO. OR, the Army could get rid of the most innaccurate way to test body fat ie the tape measure, and go to something better such as a caliper test. While not the most accurate the caliper is still much more accurate than the tape. The height and weight standards are pretty ridiculous to begin with. I'm 5'5 and 155-160lbs. Sometimes I fail weight and have to be taped. I always pass tape and while I am muscular I'm no Franco Columbo. It seems the Army wants all the soldiers to be skinny long distance runners as opposed to stout muscular athletes.

        They are making steps in the right direction with the new proposed PT regimen and APFT, taking on the body fat issue is still a tough one to curve given the culture in the US. Its more exceptable to be fat in todays society than it was 20 years ago. Now you can blame the reason you are fat on genetics, the school system, McDonalds for the advertising etc. Personal responsibility has gone by the way side.

        Now I have next to zero sympathy for anyone that fails the PT test unless an injury prevented them from exercise. What is making me lose my mind are soldier who just get back from AIT and take a record APFT with the unit 2-3 weeks after graduation and fail. WTF?! I agree with Teuvil, why are we recruiting over weight and weak troops to begin with?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

          You know what? Screw a the Army's regulation standards on height and weight. How is it that at 5'8" and weighing in at 218 pounds, I can not only pass APFT but also beat half the guys that have already been through BCT--I can also deadlift close to 500lbs, bench 245lbs for 15 reps and run a 4.5--running back capabilties--yet I need to be taped everytime I show up at drill along with the fat guys? I can understand if I had a pot belly or could only do 5 push-ups or something like that but it simply doesn't make since to treat me like I'm a candidate for a fat farm. Even if I were 190 pounds, which is still 10 pounds over by Army standards, I would look like I was nearly skin and bone. Even my NCO agreed that with my build I would lose too much muscle mass just to weigh in at 180lbs. Increasing the size of my neck in order to compensate for my waistline doesn't make a shred of sense either. But I'm passing APFT.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

            ^^^^^Exibit A to my earlier point. The Army really needs to revisit the hight and weight standards.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

              Why the **** would I want to drag/carry a 280 pound guy in combat if he gets wounded?

              Originally posted by VICROY06
              Screw a the Army's regulation standards on height and weight.
              Just wow... are you serious?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                because he would be your chubby battle buddy. Or would he be his own battle? hmmmm deep philosophical questions.

                either way you wouldn't be going far.

                I have to get taped everytime........so, I know how it is.
                Last edited by Chaplain4me; February 7th, 2011, 11:30 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                  I think a lot of soldiers who have a good head on thier shoulders recognize that standards always need to be revisted at some point or another. The Army wants soldiers to be Endurance Athletes - not skinny marathoners - well rounded (except in body shape) in physical capabilities who can excecute thier mission successfully. However standards are standards, and failure to meet those is an individual responsibility - an Army without standards is a failure - most fast-food or other civilian businesses have standards that all employees must meet to retain thier jobs (be it appearance and dress code, to physical ability and how to interact with customers (of course all job dependant) - just about every organization has an employee guide which contains standards.

                  The Body mass index test used now (Tape Test) is what it is, and is the fail-safe for those who are body builders (more muscle than fat), versus those who contain more fat than muscle. Whether or not the test is flawed in comparison to any other test (and its inherant flaws), a competant Commander and/or NCO will know the differnce and be able to provide support to those who need additional shielding to separate the muscle-body from the fat-body. Getting taped may be an inconvenience, but that is all it is if you are a linebacker with an average/normal (as opposed to high) fat content - as with all things deal with it and drive on, if indeed you are a walking muscle those around you will know it, and if you are a walking blimp, likewise.

                  I know a lot of people like to complain about standards, because they are so unfair, and such an inconvenience - I mean come on who cares if an Artilleryman can lift a 155 shell, or if any soldier can execute a 100 meter dash to save thier own life when someone shouts "INCOMING" - yeah I agree - I may not be able to carry the 280 pound body leing on the ground, so maybe I can just roll him/her to the MEDEVAC site. I mean why worry about eating to some degree of "health" when it is easier to just go to a fast-food place 3 or 4 times a day...

                  Although no one I know is putting H/W failures into a MEPS, I do know some recruiters who have invited potential soldiers to workouts on a scheduled basis at thier offices, armories, or similar locations to help those who have made the personal committment - but I also know that standards slipped severely prior to the current overstrength status the ARNG has... This overstrength could be due to the economic problems or the "bulge" allowed when we needed enlistments in the years recently past. Either way there are a lot complaining about not being able to get in... yeah who cares if they are fat and out of shape, they have the high score on the "Commando Black-Ops Green Beret Covert Mission SEALS Video Game"...

                  Well for me, I may disagree with some standards, but I hold myself to them at a higher level than I hold my troops - which is just as high in most cases - and have offered suggestions for improvement to my Chain of Command as opposed to just whining... I think I will go cook a bacon sandwich and drink a monsterade, that should help...
                  Last edited by LRSU_Dog; February 8th, 2011, 01:49 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                    Originally posted by Chaplain4me View Post
                    because he would be your chubby battle buddy. Or would he be his own battle? hmmmm deep philosophical questions.
                    Not really deep. His big *** shouldn't be in the Army. Work smarter, not harder.

                    Fat people are only useful when running away from zombies.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                      Originally posted by Teuvil View Post
                      Not really deep. His big *** shouldn't be in the Army. Work smarter, not harder.

                      Fat people are only useful when running away from zombies.
                      QFT...Zombies smorgasbord; I hope I'm around a couple phat people to get away lol!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                        Originally posted by Teuvil View Post
                        Why the **** would I want to drag/carry a 280 pound guy in combat if he gets wounded?



                        Just wow... are you serious?
                        I'm quite serious. When it comes to guys like me that are obviously more muscle than fat and, in particular, guys like me that are actually shedding more fat while gaining more muscle as time goes on need to be on a different set of standards than the dough boys that clock hours on the couch and can't stop super-sizing their value meals--throwing up remains of their triple cheeseburger only after a half mile of running, and flopping like a beached whale after a couple sit-ups.

                        At the other end of the spectrum you got kids out there that can run 12 minutes flat on the 2 mile run (high school cross country team) at 6'2" and weigh 140lbs soaking wet. He's an endurance freak and blew away the APFT but my forearms are bigger than the trunk of his legs. His legs will snap like #2 pencils when it's time to for a five mile run loaded down with equipment.

                        On a side note, while we were learning how to strip M4's and M249's the SF SGT looked at me and said: "Yeah, they'll assign you to a 249." with the most serious look on his face.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                          Originally posted by LRSU_Dog View Post

                          Although no one I know is putting H/W failures into a MEPS, I do know some recruiters who have invited potential soldiers to workouts on a scheduled basis at thier offices, armories, or similar locations to help those who have made the personal committment - but I also know that standards slipped severely prior to the current overstrength status the ARNG has... This overstrength could be due to the economic problems or the "bulge" allowed when we needed enlistments in the years recently past. Either way there are a lot complaining about not being able to get in... yeah who cares if they are fat and out of shape, they have the high score on the "Commando Black-Ops Green Beret Covert Mission SEALS Video Game"...
                          I stood next to 2--count them--2 bonafide Pillsbury dough boys while at MEPS. There wasn't an ounce of muscle tone on either one of them, and they jiggled like water balloons. One of em' had huge love handles--looked like he took two camel packs and wrapped them around his waist. He was there for the third time for the tape test and had the gall to brag about wanting to go Special Forces. Why was he recruited? I have no sympathy for blubber gutts with starry eyes. Why did his NCO continue to waste his/her time on this guy? Then there was another guy that wasn't in the best of shape but he had a solid body. Unfortunately for him his neck wasn't big enough, so he failed the tape test for the second time. I'm kind of on the fence with him. Even though he was over 6 feet tall he could have stood to have lost about 10 more pounds.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                            I was pointing my question of your attitude because of your remark "Screw the Army's regulation...". That is absolutely NO way to think.

                            AR...a dying breed.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Why Punish Overweight Troops?

                              Originally posted by Teuvil View Post
                              I was pointing my question of your attitude because of your remark "Screw the Army's regulation...". That is absolutely NO way to think.

                              AR...a dying breed.
                              I didn't mean "The Army" in general. Just when it comes to their HT/WGT scale for us bodybuilder types versus couch potatoes. As far as dealing with the general populus of recruits that think they're military material but actually aren't Army material is just fine. I guess any accomodations should be made on a case-by-case basis, as in my case.

                              Also, I'm just a little upset (I'll get over it) from when the sarge said: "You guys that had to be taped don't need to go back for seconds, and I'm serious as a heartbeat!"

                              I actually burn the calories I take in, dag nabbit!!

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