Dr. Johnston is the Medical Director for the US Army Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) Program. (These statements are Dr. Johnston’s own and do not constitute an endorsement by or opinion of the Army or the Department of Defense.) In this position, he reports to the CSF2 Director. CSF2 is a long-term strategy that prepares Department of Defense personnel, including family members and civilians, not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of protracted warfare and the everyday challenges of life.
The US Army established CSF2 to increase the resilience and performance of soldiers, family members and DA Civilians and trains specific mental and physical resilience techniques in order to increase physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and family fitness. These 5 pillars are 5 dimensions of human health and fitness. The program delivers material virtually through Comprehensive Resilience Modules (CRMs), didactically at the unit level with the Master Resiliency Training (MRT) program, and institutionally via resilience training in Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Education System. The program also confidentially assesses each individual using the Global Assessment Tool (GAT) annually to allow each person to monitor their personal growth as well as efficacy of training, and to determine the effects of professional, personal, and environmental factors. Even after just a short time, the program is collecting effectiveness at multiple levels. The vision: An Army of balanced, healthy, self-confident Soldiers, Families, and Army Civilians whose resilience and total fitness enables them to excel in an era of high operational tempo and persistent conflict. The mission: Develop and institute a holistic fitness program for Soldiers, Families, and Army Civilians in order to enhance performance and build resilience.
In August 2009, Dr. Johnston was assigned by the US Army to become the Brigade Surgeon for the first ever “Enhanced” Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and deployed to Iraq in March 2010. The unit was part of a special task force that provided all aviation medical evacuation and aviation security operations throughout Iraq during the drawdown. Dr. Johnston also gained practical experience and knowledge around soldier health issues in combat and researched ways to find solutions for specific mission performance needs through nutrition and special resiliency programs.
While in Iraq, Dr. Johnston helped build the Army’s first ever Combat Resiliency Center and was quickly named the center’s medical director. There he began researching and understanding the Army’s CSF2 program—a program from which he believes all Americans would benefit, although initially designed for improving soldier health and performance. While in Iraq, Dr. Johnston conducted research on the effect of Omega-3 EPA/DHA fish oil on resilience and performance. He has also been studying chia seeds, bioflavonoids (eg quercetin) and other antioxidants, and coenzyme Q10 for health, wellness, and performance. He believes strongly that most people buy the wrong supplements for the wrong reasons and that too many consumers are too influenced by what they hear at the gym or what they see on television or in a magazine. Even fish oil, he believes, is not closely studied by the consumer to ensure the product is biologically active. His desire is to help educate military members with proper and effective supplement strategies based on science and collaborate with the Human Performance Resource Center at USUHS (www.humanperformanceresourcecenter.com).
“I want soldiers to have the facts—that way they can have tangible, realistic, but also opportunistic approaches to promoting health and wellness.”
Dr. Johnston continues pioneering the applications of nutritional supplements to benefit soldier health and performance in highly unique and demanding environments. His primary interest is in nutrition, disease prevention, and performance (physical and neuro-cognitive) enhancement. He is also studying the CSF2 model that employs a holistic approach to building resilience; allowing soldiers to pick up after being “knocked down” so to speak by the inevitable events of life.
His interest in nutrition, disease prevention and performance enhancement has also led Dr. Johnston to research practical applications in every day life, both for the military and for civilians. That research has extended to larch arabinogalactan.