Written by: Todd Hoover, EP-C, CHES® | Division Chief, Army Wellness Center Operations, Army Public Health Center
The Army Wellness Center (AWC) program was established to provide an effective and evidenced based delivery platform for enhancing the health and wellness of the population. Every AWC team member is highly trained and proficient in health coaching, physical fitness improvement, behavior modification, and health education delivery.
The entire AWC network includes 35 centers across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Japan, Korea, Germany, and Italy. AWCs are based on four programming constructs with defined standards for equipment, staffing, programing, and facilities, and are also linked through a centralized database, which is the focal point for program evaluation efforts. Over the past 14 years, AWCs have demonstrated a level of impact unparalleled in the health industry for the delivery of preventive-type services.
The U.S. Army employs more than 285 health education professionals, including CHES® and MCHES®, because they recognize the value of hiring employees with the skills, knowledge, experience, and initiative needed to not only educate the public, but to also be able to conduct research and evaluation of community health needs/programs, create and implement needed programs, and then assess the impact or efficacy of these programs.
AWC considers the CHES®/MCHES® credential a “Tier 1 certification,” with the highest level of competency available. Individuals that possess the CHES® or MCHES® immediately demonstrate a breadth and depth of knowledge for the effective delivery of evidence-based programming for Health Education and Promotion. There are only three organizations recognized in our program which meet these criteria: the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Our experience has demonstrated that those who possess a Tier 1 credential are the most prepared to be part of the AWC team. We would not have reached this level had we not taken the harder path by ensuring our staff has earned the essential credentials such as the CHES® or MCHES® to provide service to our population.