Many health and wellness campaigns occur in November; and the effort that’s being most-heavily emphasized this year is “Warrior Care Month.”

Although health and wellness are important all year long, we may forget to take a moment to think about what it means collectively.

Under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, U.S. Army Surgeon General, the Army Medical Command continues to promote a wellness model that encourages Soldiers, families, civilians, retirees and communities to make healthy lifestyle choices that not only benefit them but also improve the readiness and resiliency of Soldiers.

Warrior Care Month is about developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles in every aspect of an individual’s “life-space” to improve the quality of life.

Although each component of the Performance Triad – physical activity, nutrition and sleep – has a significant impact on the readiness of the force, they also are essential to improving the health of our families and the nation.

Warrior care is about the resiliency of Soldiers and families.

Recently, several Kenner Soldiers and health care providers expressed their sentiments about making lifestyle changes in the clinic’s tobacco-use cessation program. Here’s what they said:

“I made a commitment to quit smoking because I wanted to expand my life and enjoy my kids and family for as long as possible. I want to be a good example for my kids. It’s hard sometimes but I’m dedicated to doing this. I started smoking when I was 16 years old. If I had the chance to help a young person decide not to start, I would tell them, it’s stupid, pointless and has no benefit. Why start an addiction if you don’t have to?” said Sgt. James Brogan.

“Deciding that you want to quit and learning what works for you is very important,” said Sgt. 1st Class retired Alan Hilliard.

“I would definitely recommend enrolling in a cessation class as part of your attempt at quitting tobacco use. The support alone is worth the effort,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Eisensmith.

“The tobacco cessation program works because it’s a comprehensive approach that focuses on a health belief and stages of change model of behavioral change that complements other quit aids including medication. It’s even more successful because the students support each other. We care about our patients and follow-up at 3, 6, and 12 months or longer if they need us. We’re there for them but the support they provide each other during the program is most valuable,” said Debbie Sessums, Preventive Medicine/Health Promotion.

“I believe Kenner’s cessation program works so well because we recognize that every person is different. Some need support that they don’t get in other aspects of life, while others need support just for their decision to quit. Overcoming the addiction is at least 90 percent psychological and the rest is the physical addiction. We can treat the physical addiction but overcoming the psychological dependence requires a decision and commitment by the patient. Deciding that you want to quit cries out for other people’s support,” said Stephen Pinkerton, Preventive Medicine.

Pinkerton, a former smoker for more than 20 years, also shared that it took him 15 attempts before he was successful.

He said he believes that had he completed a program like the one available at Kenner, it would have taken him fewer attempts.

When asked what he thought was unique about Kenner’s approach to tobacco use cessation if anything, he said: “We tell people the truth. There’s nothing magical. It’s a personal decision to manage and overcome an addiction and it’s not impossible. We save them numerous quit attempts. Personally, I believe the key and what was most important to my success in quitting tobacco use was a personal decision that I never again wanted tobacco in my life. The approach we use helps guide our patients to that point of personal decision, commitment and conviction,” Pinkerton said.

Using tobacco products and subsequent addiction to nicotine can compromise every aspect of a person’s health and well-being and has a potentially negative impact on every component of the Performance Triad.

Supporting our Soldiers and their family members toward achieving a tobacco-free lifestyle is a rewarding opportunity and a win-win situation for everyone.

For more information, call (804) 734-9086.