Throughout the military life cycle, service members and families will experience crises and challenges. Current circumstances with far-reaching impacts include the draw down in Afghanistan, various geopolitical events, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These experiences impact not only mental health but also all other aspects of well-being. A structure that can be utilized to reflect on holistic wellness are the eight domains of the Total Force Fitness (TFF) model. The domains address both mind and body: psychological, financial, spiritual, social, physical, medical/dental preventive care, nutritional, and environmental.
Military family service providers have a substantial role in supporting all aspects of force readiness. When resources and efforts are coordinated in a synchronous fashion, networks of service providers exponentially raise the capacity to support military families in all domains. Taking an integrated approach through connection and community results in higher levels of resilience and well-being.
The environmental domain of the TFF model has largely highlighted hazards and threats that detract from one’s health. Herein lies an opportunity to further expand the environmental slice by including aspects from an asset-based approach. One factor of this domain shown to enhance health and well-being among all populations is time in nature. As Dr. Keith Tidball notes:
“We spent thousands and thousands of years among the rest of nature, that’s how we were designed, It’s only in the last couple hundred years that we’ve become separate from it. But we’re compelled to affiliate with nature, which comes to the fore with urgency in times of crisis, because we associate nature with the healing aspects of hope and optimism.” (Randall, 2020)
Exposure to nature does not need to be a remote area in the woods. This connection can be cultivated through activities as simple as sitting beneath a tree in your neighborhood park or observing the sunrise through your living room window. Just two hours per week of these experiences is associated with good health and well-being (Nature Scientific Reports).
As military families continue to navigate the current landscape of events, a further integrated support network of service providers leveraging an asset-based framework will inevitably bolster family and force readiness. The MFLN Community Capacity Building team will dive further into opportunities in the environmental domain in our upcoming blog series. For more on building community capacity, resilience, and well-being, explore the round-up of supporting resources below.
Resources for Service Providers
Randall, C. (2020, April 9). Why going outside is good for your health, especially right now. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/cassidyrandall/2020/04/09/why-going-outside-is-good-for-your-health-especially-right-now/