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Keeping civilians in fighting shape

  • Published
  • By Michele Donaldson
  • Air Force Materiel Command

“Excellence in all we do” is an Air Force core value. Excellence can encompass a myriad of things including work ethic, training and education, and even maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s every Airman’s duty to be the best they can be.

Active duty Airmen have long had fitness and weight standards to keep them combat- ready. Though civilians don’t have the same requirements, sustaining a robust civilian force is critical since the most important Air Force asset is its people.

“Prioritizing the health of our civilian force is key to the success of the Air Force mission,” said Lt. Gen. Carl E. Schaefer, Air Force Materiel Command Deputy Commander.

That’s why the Civilian Health Promotion Services program, or CHPS, was established in 2006. Because of its huge civilian workforce, the program originated in AFMC, which is now the program administrator CONUS-wide.

CHPS began with onsite teams conducting health screenings and educational workshops. They work closely with other base entities including the Fitness Center, Health Promotions, Employee Assistance Program, and Military OneSource to reduce redundancy and best use resources. CHPS also serves as a communications platform, pointing users to support agencies when they are in need.

“The multi-faceted program has been so successful in AFMC that leadership has endorsed its expansion across CONUS,” said Katie Doyle, CHPS Program Manager.

The first pilot outside of AFMC was with Air Mobility Command in 2018, with onsite teams located at 13 installations. The most recent evolution, this past February, added 16 more onsite offices which are now operational.

The growth allows for virtual health and wellness benefits for installations with smaller populations of civilian employees, as well as periodic visits from a CHPS travel team to provide in-person services.

In between visits, some of the most popular “big buzz” topic courses, such as stress management and nutrition, have been recorded and are available on the CHPS wellness portal—

The portal, which also has a convenient mobile application, is a great asset for anyone who needs 24-hour advice. Users can take a health risk assessment and, since the app is location-based, can key in on a local calendar of events.

“Can’t sleep at 3 am? Tune in to a recording on the portal with tips on getting some shut-eye,” said Doyle.

The portal was upgraded the fall before the pandemic hit—just in time to provide the virtual help Airmen needed most. Some recent campaigns have included avoiding burnout, combating loneliness, weight loss, and fostering healthy relationships. The app also links to Apple Watch, Fitbit and other tracking wearables so that data can be added to the fitness mix.

“Our wellness web portal is a great asset,” said Doyle. “Folks can use tracking tools and participate in activities to help them facilitate a life-style behavior change.”

CHPS is predominately a civilian resource, but active duty members can also use it. The team tries to identify at least one person in each unit to direct communications for further dissemination. Portal users get targeted messages on topics of interest.

“CHPS has proven to be a valuable asset for AFMC personnel and is now reaching civilian Airmen and Guardians across CONUS,” said Schaefer. “This physical health resource promotes a culture of health and shows a commitment to our workforce. It provides meaningful impact in their lives, both in and out of the workplace.”

If you or your team is interested in health and wellness services from CHPS, contact the program office at Locate the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play and search for “Motivation Alliance.” Download the free app and enter as your platform.