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Base promotes new health initiative

26 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

The Combat Center was recently selected to participate in the year-long program, The Healthy Base Initiative. The program is a sub-component of  Operation Live Well. This operation seeks to catalogue practices being implemented to battle obesity and tobacco use and generally promote healthy behaviors among military families across the Department of Defense. A total of 13 DoD installations are participating in  initiative. It is also a part of the President Obamas National Prevention Strategy to foster healthy living for all Americans.

According to the literature of the program, 96 percent of the money spent on health care in the United States goes towards the treatment of health programs. Only four percent goes towards preventing the issues before they take place. Operation Live Well encourages healthy behavior and aims to make it normal to live a healthy lifestyle across the DoD.

Michelle Vukovich, Marine Corps Base Quantico’s director of Semper Fit and recreation for Marine Corps Community Services, spent most of last week conducting assessments as part of the HBI team that visited the Combat Center. She was one of three members of the subgroup that focused on health and wellness. These also included physical activity, tobacco use, children’s health, healthy eating and physical environment.

“Twentynine Palms, from my perspective, already has good practices in place, but does everyone think there’s always room for improvement? Of course,” Vukovich said.

According to Vukovich, 10 percent of the defense budget is spent on health care, with much of that stemming from obesity and tobacco use. While active duty Marines usually don’t have obesity issues, some do use tobacco products, and also may lose their healthy habits after leaving the service.

“Where the problem lies in the future is with our retired population,” she said. “How do we create a culture so that when you retire from the armed services you want to continue with a healthy lifestyle?”

The year-long program encourages active living, eating well, physical activity and stopping the use of tobacco products but the service members and Combat Center patrons are faced with the challenge of participating in the mission of the program.

“About two months after each base’s assessment, the HBI team will return to deliver a brief,” Vukovich said. “The brief will identify the installation’s best practices and some approaches they’ve discovered elsewhere that the base could implement. They’ll also come up with ways to measure the success of these efforts, and about a year later, they’ll return to measure their success. It’s a way of testing the best practices they identify.”

For more information on Operation Live Well visit

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms