Army garrisons key to ensuring ‘ready, resilient’ force

Last month, Command Sgt. Maj. Smalls and I, along with 75 other garrison commanders and command sergeants major, attended the annual Installation Management Command Garrison Commanders/Command Sergeant’s Major Conference at Joint Base San Antonio.

The conference was aimed at aligning IMCOM and its garrisons with the Army’s Ready and Resilient campaign, which rolls out this month.

Ready and Resilient is the Army’s holistic approach to total health care for its Soldiers, family members and civilians, both on and off the battlefield, with the goal of increasing readiness and resiliency within the Army family.

At IMCOM, we say we are the Army’s “home,” and as such, we must ensure our organizations are poised to help service members, family members and civilian employees maximize their potential and face the physical and psychological challenges associated with work and personal life.

During the conference, Army and corporate leaders gave presentations on Army energy, customer service and the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program.

Garrison leaders exchanged ideas and opinions with IMCOM headquarters teams on key policies and regulations, and programs.
During conference working groups, we engaged in candid discussions on the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention, and Army Substance Abuse Program policy requirements.

The group consensus was that we should continue to provide the service, educating our service members and leaders while taking the time to “see” ourselves and connect the dots; we must also understand the importance and impact that sponsorship has on reducing high-risk behavior.

To mitigate this behavior, we also need to take a proactive role in working with units to provide alternative activities for service members.

Also on the agenda — service member sponsorship during permanent change of station moves.

It is vital that we ensure units have sound sponsorship programs in place to make certain that all service members will be assigned trained and knowledgeable sponsors as soon as they receive PCS orders.

The sponsorship program is in keeping with the Army Family Covenant’s commitment to “providing families a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive,” and with that in mind, many units are moving to incorporate female-to-female sponsorship, as well as sponsorship for spouses and youths through Family Readiness Groups, Defense Department-run schools and Child, Youth and School Services.

Another important area of discussion covered career transition services.

As many are already aware, the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides seamless transition for service members, expands education and training opportunities for veterans, and provides tax credits for employers who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.

What this means for service members is that the revamped six-day transition program includes specialized training designed to better prepare service members who transition out of the military to civilian life.

Our discussion at the conference focused on the importance of job fairs and hiring events, with garrison commanders and command sergeants major on board 100 percent.

I’m excited to bring what I learned at the conference back to U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.

Yes, there will be challenges, but I look forward to doing my part in helping shape the garrison, IMCOM and the Army to confront the challenges of the future.