Story by Shelby Mullis - The Republic
Army Capt. Jeremy Troutman, center, and Sgt. 1st Class Adam Coakley with Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 152nd Infantry Regiment of the Indiana Army National Guard talk with residents of Silver Oaks Health Campus before leading them in a work out session in Columbus, Ind., Friday, June 7, 2019. Mike Wolanin | The Republic
Silver military dog tags dangled around the necks of nearly 30 senior citizens who participated in physical training led by five members of the National Guard 2-152 Infantry Battalion at Silver Oaks Health Campus.
Friday morning’s training replaced the residents’ routine exercise completed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as part of Silver Oak’s “Back to Basics” Wellness Week. Over the course of the last week, residents completed an obstacle course, toured the Bakalar Air Museum and visited Camp Atterbury.
Life enrichment director Alesa McQueary said they wanted to do something special to cap off the week, which is why they brought in “the best, most fit” guest exercise leaders around.
“The residents have been so excited for everything we’ve done this week,” McQueary said. “Our population, their patriotism is very important to them. It really is the core of their generation. To have these veterans be in this next phase of life but to connect with our current-day individuals in the service, to go to these places and look at the history of their lives, it’s a big deal.”
Staff Sgt. Evan Johnson led the residents in a 30-minute round of stretches and exercises outside the facility to get their blood circulating. They started with a simple march in place, then evolved into hamstring stretches, toe touches and shoulder rotations.
Johnson, who has served in the National Guard for 14 years, said it’s encouraging to see the residents actively participate in some physical training.
“I enjoy helping these folks because stability at their age is a big deal,” Johnson said. “At this age, slips, trips and falls are a serious issue. If I can strengthen their core, back and legs to help them last longer and prevent issue, it’s great.”
Friday’s training session was a first for the Guard — they had never before done their physical training with a group of seniors at Silver Oaks.
Johnson wasn’t doing a drill sergeant routine with the seniors, instead giving an encouraging “good job,” “that looks great” and calling out to individuals when they were able to participate.
The best wellness tip Johnson said he could give was to face each day with a good attitude, something he saw clearly in 94-year-old World War II veteran Jane Williams.
Williams served in the British Royal Navy as a leading writer (which is human resources work) at just 18 years old, and on Friday morning, said the only thing weighing her down was her age. Williams’ husband served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, including serving in World War II.
“It’s a miracle that I’m here,” Williams said. “I’m pretty lucky to be able to do these exercises at my old age.”
Silver Oaks residents watch Army Staff Sgt. Evan Johnson, with Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 152nd Infantry Regiment of the Indiana Army National Guard demonstrate an exercise during a workout session with residents of Silver Oaks Health Campus in Columbus, Ind., Friday, June 7, 2019. Mike Wolanin | The Republic
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