SMA: Army Doubling Down on Quality-of-Life Programs

SMA: Army Doubling Down on Quality-of-Life Programs

Soldier in kitchen.
Photo by: Army/Master Sgt. Daniel Wallace

The Army will continue to focus on and prioritize quality-of-life programs for soldiers and their families, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer said March 20 on Capitol Hill.

“We’re committed to supporting those soldiers and their families, building cohesive teams across the Army and ensuring that we are fostering a safe and professional climate,” Weimer testified before members of the House Appropriations subcommittee on military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies. “This starts with building positive quality of life on multiple fronts.”

Over 65,000 soldiers across all Army components are deployed around the globe, and an additional 74,000 soldiers are immediately available for crisis response, Weimer said.

The Army has invested in quality-of-life initiatives for soldiers and their families, including prioritizing $3 billion for family and privatized housing across 50 Army installations, streamlining hiring at child care development centers and increasing enlistment bonuses, among others.

As part of the Army’s barracks restoration and modernization efforts, the service is considering hiring civilian barracks managers. “We were already leaning into … [transitioning] from the model we currently have, which is uniformed service members with collateral duties, and [into] professional barracks managers to truly take care of that infrastructure as we invest dollars into sustaining it,” he said.

To reduce sexual assault and harassment among soldiers, the Army is planning to hire 11 data scientists to better understand and interpret potential trends. “Investing in … data scientists … is what we have to do now,” Weimer said. “There are so many streams of data coming in for a senior mission command at each one of the installations, we’re overwhelmed with [data].”

In terms of wellness, the Army is taking a proactive approach to meeting soldiers’ mental health needs, especially in the National Guard and Army Reserve, where touchpoints may be more limited, Weimer said.

“How do we get left [of a soldier’s potential mental health crisis]?” Weimer said. “What we’re looking into is how we can use regional hubs where we mobilize and we train … [to incorporate] sleep specialists, physical therapists and nutritionists [to promote] holistic health.”

Though there is still room for improvement, Weimer said quality-of-life initiatives will continue to be a priority. “Our Army has made some improvements over the last year, and we will continue to focus on the priority effort going forward,” Weimer said. “Together we can ensure the Army remains the nation's premier warfighting force … and ready to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.”