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JBLE readiness services keep New Years fitness, finance goals on track

Posted 2/1/2012   Updated 2/1/2012 Email story   Print story


by Toni Guagenti
Contrubuting Writer

2/1/2012 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- There's something about one year turning into the next that inspires people to better or enhance their lives: stop smoking, lose weight, get into shape, save more, spend less. The list seems endless.

But, as we enter the second month of 2012, many of us have fallen off the track to make those changes a permanent part of our lives.

On the other hand, if you work for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, you have myriad ways to get the support you need to succeed, especially if you're picking two of the most popular resolutions: getting physically or financially fit.

"Usually around February, that's when we start to get folks coming in," said Marcella D. Moody, financial readiness program coordinator for Soldier and Family Readiness at U.S. Army Base Fort Eustis. "They realize they need a budget done (because) they wasted a lot of money during the holidays, and now they're in trouble."

To head this issue off, Moody said, the program offers a class in the summer specifically dealing with creating a budget for holiday spending.

"How many of you overspent last Christmas?" Moody typically asks the attendees, whom, she says, are unfortunately few. "You see the hands go up."

Program counselors want to make sure that families don't encounter this problem again, that they have enough money set aside for the holidays, and for other expenses throughout the year, such as buying school clothes and supplies for their children, Moody said.

Through the Family Readiness Program, any Department of Defense employee with access to Fort Eustis can participate in the classes and services the program offers, which include one-on-one financial counseling and debt-reduction services.

At Langley Air Force Base, Dawn Teagle, chief of the Airman and Family Readiness Center, said service members come in with numerous financial goals for the New Year, including the desire to begin saving, become debt-free or set up a retirement account.

"They want to accrue their wealth and avoid ... more debt," Teagle said.

People have several options when they visit the readiness center, Teagle said. They can attend one of the center's weekly workshops that cover several strategies to increasing financial wellness, she said. Different workshops are rotated monthly, as well, she said.

"It's not as simple as you coming in once," said Teagle. "We're pretty busy all year long." And, the center offers customer follow-up, to make sure they're staying with the plan, she said.

For example, during Feb. 19-26, the center will host a week of activities for Military Saves Week, which will include workshops held on base housing and classes geared toward children "because it's important for them to have a positive mindset about money," too, Teagle said.

The center also helps spouses who are looking for employment in the New Year, Teagle said, including one-on-one appointments, resume-writing workshops and classes about getting hired by the federal government. Services even include mock interviews and pointers for dressing for success, Teagle said.

The center's staff provides customers with accountability, she said. "We want you to meet the goals you set for yourself; we're supporting you."

At Fort Eustis, Soldier and Family Readiness also helps people get on track to purchase a home, if that is one of their new year's goals.

"We offer a home-buying seminar every quarter," which goes through the whole process of preparing for and buying a home, Moody said. The next one is scheduled for March 28, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Army Community Service.

They talk budgets, affordable mortgages, debt-to-income ratios and credit reports.
Moody said she likes to work with customers at least six-to-eight months to make sure their finances are in order, and that they will qualify for a mortgage.

"No one plans to fail," Moody said, "you just fail to plan."

Moody also emphasizes that all program services are free and confidential. Soldiers don't have to worry about their commanding officers finding out they are in financial trouble, she said.

Like financial fitness, getting physically fit requires a commitment on the part of airmen and soldiers.

"The main thing we try to tell everyone to keep their resolution is to make it part of their lifestyle, especially if they're not doing it regularly," said Bob Ornelaz, Langley's Fit to Win coordinator and fitness contractor since 1997 for McClellan Fitness Center and Anderson Field House.

Ornelaz emphasizes the four cornerstones of fitness: a sensible nutrition plan, an aerobic training plan, a strength-training plan, and flexibility.

Picking a fun activity or something they're interested in will make it easier to incorporate exercise into a daily routine, he said.

"Some people like to do a mixture of things," Ornelaz said, "whatever keeps people interested."

For those who are just getting started, Ornelaz said, he tells them that they shouldn't "try to convert an out-of-shape body into an in-shape body over night." If they do too much and get injured or discouraged, they're more likely to fall of the fitness wagon, he said.

While soldiers have many options on base to exercise, including a lap pool and strength-training equipment, Hampton Roads also offers many other ways to stay fit, including myriad walking trails, cycling trails and organizations that sponsor running events, he said.

It's about "small achievable goals that make you feel good about yourself when you achieve them," Ornelaz said.

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