Welcome to the HAWC

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
"The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease." - Thomas A. Edison

Most Airmen endure an exceptional amount of sweat, pain and exhaustion at the gym to meet their personal fitness goals on a regular basis, yet many do not realize that they routinely walk past an agency that can help them reach those goals - the Health and Wellness Center.

The HAWC at McConnell Air Force Base has provided health and fitness-promoting services to Airmen for nearly 17 years.

It specializes in teaching people preventative measures to live a healthy lifestyle, ultimately reducing the amount of avoidable injuries and diseases, but it was not always that way.

"A lot of what we did prior to the past year and a half, everything was associated or affiliated with the AF fitness program," said Lou Stadler, 22nd Medical Group HAWC director. "We're changing our mission because there is a way that we see it being more effective and that is through prevention."

The HAWC offers a variety of classes that span topics such as nutrition, physical training leadership, diabetes, cholesterol and tobacco cessation, a course designed to help people quit smoking.

"For tobacco cessation, we meet once a week for four weeks," said Laura Markuly, 22nd MDG physiologist and health educator. "If people cannot come to that, then there is also the quit line."

Since Markuly began teaching the class in 2009, the smoking rate at McConnell AFB has been reduced by 6.1 percent.

Much of the education offered at the HAWC revolves around behavioral modification, but some things can only be learned through careful and precise assessments, such as the gate analysis.

The evaluation takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes and determines what type of running shoe fits the patient best.

Another popular feature at the HAWC is the "Bod Pod," a machine capable of measuring a person's fat-free mass, body fat and resting metabolic rate.

While the pod helps clients to accurately monitor their body, nutritional guidance is one of the most effective services the HAWC offers to help people reach their weight loss goals.

"I obviously believe it is absolutely essential for people to be mindful of their diets," said Maribeth Havran, 22nd MDG health promotion dietitian. "We really are what we eat. The food and beverages we consume will eventually breakdown and be the energy or fuel that our body uses - so if we choose to eat poorly our bodies will eventually suffer from the lack of good nutrition."

Many appointments entail what Harvran calls a "nutritional intervention," a frank discussion of realistic expectations.

"I strongly recommend that clients set smart goals," said Harvran. "That is so they can easily achieve and can reinforce the new nutrition behaviors we are trying to instill, but also so they are useful and effective."

While the HAWC offers many forms of hands-on assessments, people can seek other health promoting resources without a specialized evaluation, said Stadler.

Educational books, videos and CDs can be checked out for two weeks at a time at the HAWC's lending library, and five bicycles are available to use on base at its mountain bike checkout.

The HAWC is available for service members and their families from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If everyone at the HAWC does their job correctly, they can prevent people from having to go to the medical group, saving the Air Force time and money; keeping troops healthy and ready to deploy at any given moment, said Stadler.

For more information on the HAWC, located in the Robert J. Dole Community Center, call (316)759-6024.