When it comes to reducing alcohol misuse among service members, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart is overcoming the obstacles, well, with obstacles.
The Stuttgart Warrior Pride Obstacle Course Challenge held April 27 gave more than 200 members of the Stuttgart military community a chance to test their agility, strength, endurance and bravery as they ran, climbed, jumped and crawled their way through the Panzer Local Training Area obstacle course.
The event was sponsored by the garrison’s Army Substance Abuse Program with the help of the Headquarters Support Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
The obstacle course challenge was the third ASAP fitness event, following a pentathlon and triathlon held last year.
“The main goal in deciding to include an obstacle course was to have fun. However, it was also to create a challenging experience, build social ties and foster wellness … I think we were successful in doing this,” said Marianne Campano, the prevention coordinator for USAG Stuttgart’s ASAP.
Thirty-seven four-person teams competed in the obstacle course, including three all-women teams. Even the German armed forces fielded a co-ed team. The challenge was also open to individual participants.
Ten obstacles pushed the participants to their limits, as they climbed a 40-foot obstacle with nets, low crawled under barbed wire, scaled walls, balanced along beams, flipped large truck wheels, and ran while carrying two filled five-gallon water cans.
Most of the participants said that the obstacle aptly named “Tarzan” was the most difficult to conquer. They had to balance their way along several horizontal logs of increasing height and finish by swinging hand over hand from monkey bars made of wood beams that were hard to grip.
Air Force 1st Lt. Charneice McKenzie, a member of the first-place Defense Information Systems Agency women’s team, entered the competition for fun and found it challenging and rewarding. “The course increased my confidence and was great for team-building. Without help from my team, it would have been much more difficult,” she said.
Warrior Pride Challenge is a program that encourages service members in the ranks of E1 through E7 and O1 through O2 to participate in adventure sports and travel in order to foster wellness and reduce risky behaviors.
Patterned after the successful “environmental approach” used at U.S. college campuses, it is designed to change the environment that leads to excess drinking. WPC gets service members involved in healthy activities during high-risk drinking times or during early morning hours to preclude heavy partying and drinking the night before, according to Campano. Stuttgart Warrior Pride Challenge is the first of its kind in the Army, Campano added.
Since the program’s inception in July of last year, Stuttgart service members have traveled to Paris, Nürnberg and The Netherlands, and have gone paragliding and snowboarding.
Upcoming events include a trip to Prague, sky-diving, white water rafting, canyoning and mountain biking in Switzerland, all at a reduced cost or at no cost to the service member.
Perhaps not just by chance, the DUI rate in the Stuttgart military community has decreased by 18 percent, compared with the same time last year, according to Campano.
“Improving the well-being of our service members is in itself the worthiest of goals; and military readiness, unit cohesion, family strength and our community health will all benefit as a result,” Campano said.
For more information on Warrior Pride Challenge activities, link to their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/USAGStuttgartWPC. More photos can be seen at www.flickr.com/photos/usagstuttgart.
Men’s Team Division
1 — Team Bad Ass, 1-10 SFG (C Co.), 8:25
2 — Team X, 52nd Sig. Bn., 13:40
3 — Shadow Warriors, SOCEUR Sig. Det., 14:26
4 — Semper Fly, Marines, 15:33
Men’s Overall Individual Division
1 — Elbert Ekeh, Marines, 6:15
2 — Joshua Thibodeaux, 1-10 SFG (A Co.), 6:28
3 — Lorenzo Garbiso, 1-10 SFG (C Co.), 6:38
4 — Mario Johnson, SOCEUR, 7:33
Women’s Team Division
1 — DISA Europe, 36:25
2 — Lady Souljas, 52nd Sig. Bn., 35:34
3 — Wardawg Wives, 554th MP Co. Spouses, 46:03
Women’s Overall Individual Division
1 — Bethany Guzman, EUCOM, 12:47
2 — Karen Williams, EUCOM, 13:15
3 — Michelle Heagney, EUCOM, 13:20