Around Government

The Battle of the Bulge

Military bases feature healthier choices on the menu as obesity rises in the ranks.

By Caitlin Fairchild 

In the mid-1990s, one in 50 service members wrestled with weight issues, according to Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs. That number jumped to one in 20 by 2005. The military services spend $1.4 billion a year on health care costs related to obesity. 

To combat expanding waistlines, the Defense Department is updating menu standards for military bases to ensure healthier foods are served in dining halls and vending machines. 

Even before the changes were announced in February, pilot programs already were under way at six posts, including Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, which first lady Michelle Obama visited as part of her Let’s Move! campaign. Offerings include salad bars stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products available at every meal.

Portable food stations called Provisions on Demand have been installed at Travis and Elmendorf Air Force bases, allowing diners to grab hot and healthy meals on the go. Weighing in at 100,000 meals served so far, the stations have been a popular part of the initiative. 

The first lady praised the Military Health System’s efforts during her visit to Little Rock. “This is truly a national security issue,” she said, emphasizing that the changes were not just about dieting. “I have never been more confident that if we keep coming together like this as a nation, if we keep working together, we can make a real difference for our children, but more importantly, for our entire country.”


A Vision for The Future


Congress in December 2011 approved $12 million in additional spending to fund work on closing out contracts with vendors. What’s more remarkable than the spending decision is the people doing the closeout work are legally blind or have other severe disabilities—and their endeavors will return nearly $38 million in de-obligated dollars to the U.S. Treasury. 

Kevin A. Lynch, president of National Industries for the Blind, helped broker a deal with the Defense Acquisition University to provide free training to the workers, who use specially equipped telephone and computer equipment to get the job done. They will close some 26,000 contracts. Under the 1971 Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, establishing the umbrella AbilityOne program of federal support to programs employing people with disabilities, the government purchases about $3 billion in goods and services. 

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, and with support from Defense Department procurement official Shay D. Assad, Lynch and NIB Executive Vice President Angela Hartley are working to move more blind people into services jobs.  

Timothy B. Clark


Top Jobs


Even seasoned executives often fail to communicate their full potential in job interviews, according to David King and Jim Starkey, authors of High Performance Interviewing, available from Compact Concepts Inc. The book offers tips for developing your key messages, including:


Identify the winning criteria
Find the organization’s pain points and imagine the qualities needed to address those challenges. Match your assets with the winning criteria and identify how you would compensate for any gaps.  

Plan your attack
Determine how you intend to win. Think about what combination of assets sets you apart. If your differentiators can be matched by most other candidates, you have not yet found the answer. Think about soft skills as much as hard facts.

Build your vision
Interviewers care about past performance, but don’t make them figure out how you would address the organization’s challenges. Communicate how you would get started, how you would work with your colleagues and how you might handle pitfalls.

Look for opportunities to talk about what you value doing. Explain the emotional reasons you want the job. Be sure to tell the interviewer why you care, or someone who cares more will
outshine you. Susan Fourney

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