Keeping military families healthy and fit

The CHAMPs are in the house. 

This week The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast welcomes two experts representing the Consortium of Health and Military Performance (CHAMP), a designated Department of Defense Center of Excellence specializing in total force fitness and human performance optimization. They strive to achieve enhanced warfighter readiness through evidence-based human performance optimization knowledge, guidance and operational support. 

Representing CHAMP are: 

Capt. J. Russell “Crazy Juice” Linderman: A native of Pennsylvania, Linderman started out in biomedical research after receiving a bachelor’s in pre-medicine from Penn State University and a doctorate in physiology from the West Virginia University. He then trained to become a Naval Aerospace and Operational physiologist. His roles have included serving as the Aeromedical Safety Officer, Commander Strike Fighter Wing U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Air Station Lemoore; and the director, Human Performance Lab at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. In October 2021, he transferred to the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine to serve as the deputy director of CHAMP.

• Andrea T. Lindsey: A nutrition information specialist with extensive experience in the field of dietary supplements, Lindsey has considerable knowledge and understanding regarding the content, safety, labeling and marketing of these products. She serves as director of Operation Supplement Safety and senior nutrition scientist with CHAMP. Most of her work encompasses the topic of dietary supplements and their ingredients, which involves reviewing, evaluating, and interpreting the scientific literature; writing; and directing the program. She regularly educates servicemembers, health-care providers, military family members and leaders about dietary supplements.

CHAMP, which was created in 1979, focused on research and wellness starting in the mid-1980s and is known for creating the Navy SEAL nutritional guide. (Learn more here.)

For today’s servicemembers, CHAMP provides “evidence-based information that has been translated to educational materials so they can use them. There is a treasure trove of information that can be used. Though the information we are putting out is good for anybody with a heartbeat and a pulse.”

Still, the primary focus is the military community from active-duty troops to veterans and retirees to military family members. “CHAMP is made for military and good for you,” as Linderman says.

“It’s a holistic approach to health care,” he explains. “CHAMP has never been more important than now. We are in a situation where we have less than ever individuals being recruited in the military.”

Lindsey’s advice comes down to a simple mantra: “Eat real food first.”

Still, there are times for dietary supplements, she says, though they need to be properly vetted and implemented. “Our audience is everyone. Certainly, the servicemember, our veterans, health-care providers, our health-care partners, and that includes strength and conditioning coaches, our occupational trainers, our nurses. It runs the gamut.”

When a servicemember, for example, considers using a supplement, Lindsey starts with a basic question.

“Why?” she would ask. “What is the goal? Have they worked with a dietician or a provider to determine the need? Have you had blood work? Have you had tests to show you are low in something?”

Lindsey explains that just adding a supplement might actually be detrimental to the servicemember because of how it would interact with another that is already being used.

“That’s why we are here,” she points out. “We are not here to say ‘no’ to supplements. We are here to allow all of our clients to be informed users and make safe supplement choices.”

Check out the new episode for more on nutrition, supplements, sleep tips and more.

 Also, co-hosts Stacy Pearsall, Joe Worley and Adam Marr:

• Discuss an upcoming commemoration of Operation Overlord with the cast of “Band of Brothers.”

• Talk about superstitions in the military.

• Hand out Bravo Zulus.

Check out this week’s episode, which is among more than 240 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.