2020 was a year to remember for many unusual reasons

By Col. Jason Condrey Commander
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Col. Jason Condrey speaks to the community during a livestream community update. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart.

For many, January is a time of resolutions as we envision all that we can accomplish in the New Year ahead. At the start of 2020, I had plans to ensure the completion of several construction projects around our installations that would alleviate stress on our community.

As we moved through that first month, we looked at ways to improve our Stuttgart App and facilitate faster, smoother communication flow from the Garrison team to you. I had several housing concerns on my radar as we looked for ways to enhance the quality and satisfaction with on-post housing. And we were encouraging mass participation in our community town halls so that I could hear from you.

There were so many projects, improvements and ideas I had hoped to tackle in 2020 but our mission shifted immediately when COVID came to town. Suddenly, limited parking was the least of our concerns. Instead of opening new facilities and expanding service offerings, we shuttered everything on base that was not mission-essential.

In early March we heard healthy people should not wear masks, by April we were requiring them in every facility on-post and forcing you to wash your hands before entering.

From mandating mask wear before the Host Nation did, to implementing red, white and blue service schedules and limiting the number of cleaning items you could buy in the commissary, the restrictions came hard and fast, and with the benefit of great public health advice, often before many were mandated.

Chances are most of you spent some time in quarantine this year and possibly took your family with you on that two-week journey. If you think that made you unpopular with your spouse and kids, just be glad you weren’t the dad who had to cancel Halloween.

“We are ready & engaged, resilient and focused on results.”

I know that not every change I implemented was received enthusiastically, and many were quick to let me know when I was wrong. I valued every piece of feedback you gave over this last year, because it allowed us to focus our efforts where they were needed most. Together, we were able to move forward and eventually take charge of the COVID situation within our gates.

And as I look back at how this community adapted and overcame every challenge thrown in our way during the past 12 months, I am once again amazed at the resiliency of this community. When the time came for us to act quickly, I appreciated your trust and willingness to follow the guidance that allowed us to set the terms with this adversary.

Now as we move into 2021, and we anticipate that light at the end of the COVID tunnel, I am asking you to do it again. Because even though January 1 offers us a fresh start to a new year, in every direction, you can see reminders of the enemy of yesterday. We are more informed and prepared to keep it at bay but it only takes a few missteps to undo all that we have accomplished. We must continue to wear our masks, wash our hands, maintain our distance and support one another through this unprecedented time. If we do that, we will maintain the initiative in this pandemic.

In closing, I would just like to add that we still tackled several of our 2020 projects, like opening up 160 more parking spaces on Patch with a new parking garage, improving the process for completing work orders in on-post housing and soon we will begin to quickly see the impacts of 4 new contracts centered on our facilities, housing and grounds. We leveraged, what I believe to be, one of the best apps available on any military installation, to provide you with instant notifications of changes in a fluid COVID environment and provide access to virtual and in-person services.

Despite all of the setbacks and changes to how we operate, COVID could not stop us from accomplishing goals and bettering our community last year and it won’t stop us in 2021. We are ready & engaged, resilient and focused on results.

So as I set my goals for 2021, I ask that you continue to send me your questions, comments and concerns and invite you to join the community conversation every other Thursday night at 6:30. And as I move into the final six months of my time as your garrison commander, I resolve to keep finding ways to make this community one you can be glad you live in.