Nutrition always top priority
The headline on the Oct. 15 article on nutrition (“Commander says lax standards have led to more overweight GIs,” front page) was misleading. As the outgoing U.S. Army Europe food service warrant officer who developed the USAREUR Fueling the Team (UFTT) program, I can tell you that it is about educating our Army team (soldier, family member and Department of Defense/Department of the Army civilian) on healthier lifestyles through healthier eating, not about overweight soldiers or lax standards.
The UFTT program gives the Army team member the information not only to make proper choices within Army dining facilities but also at the commissary, exchange food courts and off-post establishments.
As a food service warrant officer, I am truly concerned about the comments from readers that you highlighted in the sidebar (“Say What?: A sampling of reader comments from stripes.com”) and would encourage those soldiers to revisit their respective dining facilities, as we are constantly making improvements. Where in Europe can a soldier paying $4.25 get the same quality lunch or dinner meal as served within their dining facility? I would even say that a meal card holder using other establishments gives away a part of his pay before he even orders.
Finally, the dining facilities are there for soldiers and, if they have concerns with what is being served, then they should bring those to the management and their commanders and not walk away.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 James D. Donaldson
Reward GIs’ creative brains
I have been deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq and have had ideas about new product designs that could have added to the safety of our troops during both deployments. There is currently no avenue to allow soldiers’ ideas to be analyzed and implemented. It is hard for an average individual to make a good idea materialize into a product due to the expense of patents and the lack of knowledge of the process.
Companies have capitalized on this by creating areas on their websites for small inventors to suggest ideas that may be value added to their company. This has proven to be a cheap-but-effective way for companies to innovate.
The Army is in a perfect situation to do this because all soldiers use Army Knowledge Online on a routine basis, and this could simply be another tab or link on the AKO home page.
The Army needs to take full advantage of the combat experience that its hundreds of thousands of soldiers have obtained over the last 10 years. The Army could easily promote a system that allows soldiers to share their thoughts and ideas through AKO and even offer a $1,000 reward if the idea is implemented. The Army would also incentivize soldiers to share their ideas by just simply recognizing the soldier and giving him or her credit if a patent is issued. The cost associated with collecting and analyzing these ideas would be minimal compared with the billions that the Army spends on research and development every year.
Who better to come up with innovations that could benefit our Army then the soldiers who are out there every day experiencing firsthand what problems they face and what is needed to fix them?
Capt. Bentham Reed
Forward Operating Base Delaram, Afghanistan