A familiar structure on Fort Sill now serves a new purpose after officials cut the ribbon to the Graham Performance Enhancement Center Wednesday.
The former Graham Resiliency Training Campus at 2934 Marcy Road continues to honor the memory of the two sons of retired Maj. Gen. Mark and Carol Graham.
Second Lt. Jeff Graham was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in February 2004. His brother Kevin, a senior Army ROTC cadet studying to be an Army doctor at the University of Kentucky, took his own life in June 2003.
Since then their parents have become tireless champions of military and civilian efforts to promote mental health and suicide prevention awareness and to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health care.
The Grahams have established the Jeffrey and Kevin Graham Memorial Fund to provide the “Question, Persuade, Refer” Suicide Prevention Program at the University of Kentucky and other programs in Colorado and New Jersey.
“We realize today that mental health is only one aspect in taking care of our Army, our soldiers and their families. Mental and physical fitness are both required to win our nation’s wars,” Fort Sill Chief of Staff Col. Anthony Lugo said at the ceremony prior to a two-hour open house.
To create a world-class performance center, Lisa Johnson, the community Ready and Resilient (R2) integrator, pulled together four programs that follow the Army’s commitment to holistic health and fitness:
• The Ready and Resilient Performance Center provides customized performance training that enables sustained personal readiness, enhances resilience, optimizes human performance and builds organization cohesion. Training is available Army-wide to active duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers as well as family members and Department of the Army civilians.
The mental skills and techniques taught by the R2 performance experts include: building confidence, goal-setting, attention control, energy management, integrating imagery and team-building.
• The Army Wellness Center provides integrated and standardized primary prevention programs and services that promote enhanced and sustained healthy lifestyles to improve the overall well-being of soldiers and family members through six core programs: health assessment review, physical fitness, healthy nutrition, stress management, general wellness education and tobacco education.
• The Pregnancy/Postpartum Physical Training (P3T) program is an innovative physical fitness training and education program designed to assist pregnant and postpartum soldiers in meeting the unique needs associated with physical fitness training during and after pregnancy, while doing it in a safe way. This is the only program of the four that is solely for the soldier, Johnson said.
• The Fitness Center is a training and education site for physical fitness and reconditioning, available to clients by reservation only. Johnson cited the fitness center as an example of how the workspace had to be reinvented to meet the new mission. The Fort Sill Directorate of Public Works got rid of the sloping floor and drain down the middle to provide a flat surface that would be safer than before.
Also on the east end of the building, they installed partitions for office space, opened up an interior doorway to a classroom that could only be accessed from an outside door before and put in a new wall.
The upcoming year will be phase one of the Graham Performance Enhancement Center, Johnson said. She hopes to see the programs become more integrated, new programs come in and more capabilities added to keep soldiers strong and healthy.
Right now, each program comes with its own staff. For instance, the Army Wellness Center has six: four health educators to do physical assessments of individuals and come up with guidance to meet their goals based off of their limitations, a director and a health promotion technician.
The R2 Performance Enhancement Team has six performance experts who have backgrounds in sports psychology or a similar background, to work on the mental or cognitive side of health. It also has a director and an administrative person.
P3T has one program manager, Mayra Basinger, who works for the Fires Center of Excellence to help expecting mothers maintain peak physical condition before and after childbirth while staying within safe limits.
A first sergeant manages the building with help from three noncommissioned officers who handle scheduling and assist with the Start Right introductory program and the Commander/First Sergeant Course.
The Graham Performance Enhancement Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, but a lot of the programs are willing to adjust for the units or organizations that need to come earlier for PT. Appointments are highly encouraged. The number to call is 580-442-0680.
Fort Sill Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Russ Blackwell said he thinks the new facility is “a major step in the right direction towards getting after holistic health and fitness.”
This is a joint venture by the U.S. Army Garrison, which encompasses Army Community Services, and the Fires Center of Excellence, he noted.
It’s where soldiers will be educated on mental, physical and spiritual fitness, nutrition, sleep and diet in accordance with Army Wellness programs, Blackwell said.
“If you can think of an area of fitness, we are getting after it in this center,” he said.