SASEBO, Japan – USS GERMANTOWN (LSD 42) was recently awarded the 2014 Green H award in recognition of outstanding adherence to both medical and physical fitness standards. This is the eighth consecutive year that the ship has earned this prestigious recognition.
A major requirement for this award is maintaining strict compliance to medical readiness. This includes detailed tracking of shots, immunizations, and other periodical medical requirements of the crew. It also takes into account the organization and implementation of various Navy Occupational Safety & Health (NAVOSH) programs to include Sight Conservation, Heat Stress, and Hearing Conservation.
Meeting all of these rigorous administration requirements is only half the battle. In order for GERMANTOWN to exceed the standards and maintain their eight year run, a command culture had to be developed where the crew embraces healthy lifestyles as their own.
“For this award, you have to create a command culture where health and fitness is routine,” says Lt Erik Johnson, the ship’s Medical Officer. “You have to creatively develop methods to get the crew to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Once you establish that, the effort on the part of medical leadership becomes part of the daily routine.”
A tool utilized by the medical team to create this culture is the quarterly meeting of the Health Promotion Committee. Various representatives throughout the ship meet to develop creative ways to promote healthy eating, physical fitness, medical awareness, and tabacco cessation. Their goal is to create solutions that the crew will want to participate in, as opposed to ones they are required to.
One of the most successful programs to come out of the Health Promotion Committee is the Captain’s Cup. The program is a command sponsored set of sports tournaments to include basketball, dodge ball, football, and other physical activities. Each department creates their own team of participants and competes to earn points for their department.
“We have incredible turnout at our Captain’s Cup tournaments,” says CS1 Laurente, the Captain’s Cup program manager. “While the events promote physical fitness, they also foster mutual respect between the departments. I have seen improvements in crew teamwork and morale from those that participate.”
The ship has high aspirations for the health and fitness programs as they continue into the next competitive cycle. The Health Promotion Committee continues to meet regularly and already developed new goals for the year. Lt Johnson revamped critical health reviews to improve the effectiveness of annual health screenings. CS1 Laurente plans to broaden his Captain’s Cup with a wider range of sports. He is also thinking of creating more winning incentives and increasing command awareness in order to further improve participation. With such a driven health and fitness team, GERMANTOWN will be in a prime condition to continue their incredible winning streak.