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A HEALTHY ARMY

2nd Lieutenant Tara Johnson - Dietitian (Reserve)

My name is Tara Beth Johnson - I'm a Lieutenant. My area of concentration is a 65-Charlie, a Dietitian, and my reserve unit is the 6253rd U.S. Army Hospital, Mesa, Arizona.

When I was Active Duty I had a bad attitude about Reservists and Guardsmen because I thought, "Oh, they're part-time, they don't care," but it's totally different.

When you're Active Duty, that's your only job, but when you're a Reservist, you have your civilian career and you have your Reserve career, which you have to manage. We have a lot of continuing education to remain dietitians.

I think being in the military made me a more disciplined person than I ever was before. Being an Officer to me is something that I had aspired to for a long time and it was really a very proud moment when my husband and my mother-in-law pinned my bars on me.

As an Army Reserve Dietitian a lot of what we do is the Weigh-to-Stay Program, helping Soldiers keep their weight in control so they can stay in the Army and it gets to be a problem with Reservists because you only see them, you know, that one time a month at Drill and what they're doing during the month may not be helping them get to that goal and so it's really trying to help people with that and modify their eating habits.

I work with the physical therapists, getting an exercise program together because they definitely fit together: exercise and diet.

What we do when we're activated, we go to Active Duty hospitals and backfill for that hospital while they get deployed. I take cooking classes because it's not enough to just tell people, "You need to eat healthy, you need this many fruits, this many vegetables."

You really have to apply that to them and especially if they've grown up in a household where healthy cooking was not stressed. It's foreign to them, so they really have to see that these foods can be prepared in a way that tastes good.