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Health In All Places Tour Focuses On Vets In Okaloosa County


Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong joined community leaders in Okaloosa County as a part of his “Health In All Places Tour.” Wuwf’s Danielle Freeman reports the stop highlighted veterans and the importance of working together to move health forward in Florida.

As part of his tour, Dr. John Armstrong stopped by the gymnasium of the new twenty five acre Ft. Walton Beach Recreation Center located on Jet Drive. Armstrong says it’s essential for everyone in general and the military in particular to live a healthy lifestyle, “We are proud to have military bases and coast guard stations across Florida, and what we do is to recognize the importance of health for military families, for uniform service men and women and for our veterans.”

Florida Department of Health Director for Okaloosa County, Dr. Karen Chapman says one of the goals is to integrate fitness into the lives of our veterans, “We are reaching out to our veteran partners and incorporating them into our whole healthy life styles and they are actually right on the same campus with us, our Veterans Affairs Office, so we’re working with them on newer initiatives to incorporate our veterans.”

Echoing those sentiments is FWB Mayor Mike Anderson, a retired Air Force veteran, “We pride ourselves on being if not the most friendly then very close to the most friendly military community in the state and we work very hard to do what we can to support the military.”

The new eight and a half million dollar Fort Walton Beach Recreation Complex that replaced the Hedrick Center is centrally located between Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base. The center which opened its doors this spring hosts a variety of fitness options for the community including basketball, volleyball, racquetball, and a state of the art fitness room with bikes, treadmills, and stair climbers.

Dr. Armstrong says only thirty six percent of adult Floridians are at a healthy weight, which is better than the national average. And, Armstrong says it ties in nicely with the DOH’s Healthy Weight Initiative in which, sixty five cities so far in the state of Florida have achieved, Fort Walton Beach is a Healthy Weight Community Champion. It’s a program that we launched two years ago that is designed to spotlight municipalities and counties that put in place programs and policies to help people make healthier choices in nutrition and encourage regular physical activity. So, the city of FWB is the first city of Okaloosa County to achieve this recognition.”

Yet, the health and well being of the entire community is the main focus of the Department of Health. Dr. Karen Chapman says extending the lives of the people in the area is critical. And, incorporating healthy lifestyle choices is the first step, We have a lot of people die before age seventy five in our county. We want people to live long healthy lives. And, that’s really the goal, to get people to think more about eating healthy and being physically active and limiting the amount of time they sit on the sofa in front of a screen. Limiting the sugary drinks, not forever, not always, but they should be for celebrations. And, not smoking.”

Again, Dr. Karen Chapman,

Remember our veterans are our community. The military is our community. So, we’re all in this together.”

More information about keeping active and developing healthy habits for life go to FloridaHealth.gov. Danielle Freeman WUWF News.