FALLS CHURCH, Va. --
Recently, the U.S. surgeon general and members of the National Prevention Council, including Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, released the first ever National Prevention Strategy, which provides a plan to shift the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.
Officials said the goal of the National Prevention Strategy is to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.
The strategy provides recommendations that officials said are essential to improving the nation's health:
-- Building healthy and safe community environments: Prevention of disease starts in communities and at home; not just in the doctor's office.
-- Expanding quality preventive services in both clinical and community settings: When people receive preventive care, such as immunizations and cancer screenings, they have better health and lower health care costs.
-- Empowering people to make healthy choices: Policies and programs can make healthy options the easy and affordable choice. When people have access to and easy-to-understand information and resources, they are empowered to make healthier choices.
-- Eliminating health disparities: By eliminating disparities in achieving and maintaining health, we can help improve quality of life for all Americans.
To help achieve these goals, the strategy identifies recommendations to reduce the leading causes of preventable death and major illness. The strategy's seven priorities are:
-- Tobacco-free living
-- Preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use
-- Healthy eating
-- Active living
-- Injury and violence-free living
-- Reproductive and sexual health
-- Mental and emotional well-being
TRICARE officials said they applaud the National Prevention Council's efforts and recommendations.
"For years, TRICARE has promoted healthy lifestyles by educating beneficiaries and providing tools and resources for making good decisions about healthy living," said Ginnean Quisenberry, the director of the Population Health, Medical Management and Patient Centered Medical Home Division of TRICARE. "These efforts come not just from within the health system, but are also becoming a focus in areas such as our child care centers, schools, commissaries and fitness centers. Making our communities healthier is a great step toward improving the health of individuals as well."
TRICARE already has several efforts in place which are designed for beneficiaries to get healthy and stay healthy. The "Get Fit" campaign, www.tricare.mil/getfit, was started to increase obesity awareness and get beneficiaries and their families moving. Programs and resources, as well as information on treatment coverage for alcohol problems, are available at www.tricare.mil/alcoholawareness
TRICARE also has resources for beneficiaries seeking assistance with quitting tobacco, including brochures and toll-free help lines. Go to www.tricare.mil/healthyliving/tobaccocessation/
for more information.
Another smoking-cessation resource is the Department of Defense's www.ucanquit2.org website, which offers tools, a 24/7 online chat, support message boards and a smoking cessation program called "Train2Quit".
TRICARE's mental health resource center, www.tricare.mil/mentalhealth
, provides confidential access to mental health resources for beneficiaries and their families.
TRICARE also covers clinical preventive services, which are available for all beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can visit TRICARE's website, www.tricare.mil/preventiveservices
, for more information on covered services.
The National Prevention Strategy is supported by the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. The council is composed of the heads of 17 federal agencies and chaired by the U.S. surgeon general. More information on the National Prevention Strategy and the National Prevention Council can be found at www.HealthCare.gov/center/councils/nphpphc