The North Dakota National Guard has been working hard to keep our community healthy, during the pandemic.

Now, one woman, is working to return that favor.

“Now I have the platform to help influence a lot of people,” said Capt. Vanessa Lennick, Medical Service Corps Officer.

Capt. Vanessa Lennick is working to take the North Dakota National Guard’s nutrition and wellness into greater consideration.

She’s been working with her superiors to launch a new program, called “Fuel the Force”.

So, what is it?

“So, fuel the force is a new program that Vanessa’s spearheading. To work towards that holistic health within the service. The holistic health, physically, mentally, spiritually, fit soldiers and airmen,” said Major Waylon Tomac, 68th Troop Command, Training Officer.

“Just nutritional advice and nutrition education on how to change daily habits. To really help people impact your daily routine. Make better choices,” said Lennick.

Lennick will be the face of this new program, making 30 to 60 second videos for soldiers and their families on the North Dakota National Guard Facebook and Instagram pages.

“We kind of sat down and thought how can we make these videos or this work, this nutrition advice, nutrition guidance more available. But also make a bigger impact on the force,” said Lennick.

“So as a national guard, as an army, as a department of defense, we need to work on our transformational leadership. How do we approach our young and upcoming service members?
How do they learn? And we need to tailor our training methods to their needs,” said Tomac.

Before the pandemic, the Guard would conduct training face-to-face, and it was limited to a few PowerPoint presentations and wellness camps every year.

This new program will not only be more accessible, but will also be tailored to individuals, rather than approaching it with a one-size-fits-all mindset.

“Vanessa brings a special skillset that really fills a void in the National Guard. We don’t have registered Dieticians on the military side, assigned to the National Guard,” said Tomac.

You might be wondering why soldiers would need help with their health and fitness goals. While those who choose to serve are some of the most physically capable individuals in our country, there are other things to consider.

“We are civilian soldiers. So, the majority of our soldiers are civilians the majority of the time. So, if the majority of our civilian population are overweight, that affects our force,” said Lennick.

Lennick tells us, that while she knows everyone’s plate is pretty full, she hopes to expand the program in the future.

“I expect this program to open the door to a lot of more opportunity for other professionals in the National Guard to help each other. Right? We can’t do it without each other,” said Lennick.

Lennick says she plans to start filming her videos any day now, and the “Fuel the Force” wellness program will launch, officially, next month.