SCHINNEN, Netherlands - U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen was recognized as one of the Army's most improved installations during a Pentagon ceremony held May 5.

Accordingly, Schinnen received $200,000 that will be used to further improve garrison services and facilities.

Army installations worldwide compete annually to be an Army Community of Excellence by measuring their performance against Army priorities and the Malcolm Baldrige national quality criteria.

The award was presented to USAG Schinnen leadership by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson. Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort McCoy, Wis., shared the honor of 'most improved' with USAG Schinnen and also received $200,000 each.

"This accomplishment truly belongs to the men and women who make USAG Schinnen the Army's home. They did the work. They made a difference. They earned it. It is truly an honor to receive the award on behalf of the garrison," said Lt. Col. Fern O. Sumpter, commander of USAG Schinnen.

USAG Schinnen, whose support extends across northern Germany, northern Belgium and the Netherlands, works in concert with JFC BrunssumAca,!a,,cs Morale Welfare Branch and GeilenkirchenAca,!a,,cs Family Readiness Group. So, this award recognizes an effort that will continue to benefit the entire tri-border community.

In remarks to the packed Pentagon auditorium, Chiarelli praised Soldiers and family members for the resiliency they have shown during several years of conflict, and he applauded commanders for creating "welcoming, supportive communities that encourage and nurture closeness."

"Unlike in the past," the general added, "more and more spouses are choosing to stay in the area, continue their jobs and keep the kids enrolled in local schools during periods of separation. They consider whatever camp, post or station they live at home."

USAG Schinnen joined the demanding ACOE process in 2003.

"It really has been a journey," said Frans Meisen, a Dutch Ministerie van Defense employee who serves as the garrison's deputy director for programs, analysis and integration. Two-thirds of the garrison's work force is Dutch, and Meisen has been involved in the garrison's ACOE journey since it began.

"After watching our Installation Status Report ratings improve, the link between using the Malcolm Baldrige criteria and our performance became clear," he noted. "In 2006 we felt ready to make our first submission to compete and the work by our garrison team, literally, paid off this year."

The top winners of ACOE were Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., who both received their fourth gold Army Communities of Excellence Award and $1 million each.

The ACOE Awards honor the top Army, National Guard and Reserve installations that achieve levels of excellence in building a high-quality environment, outstanding facilities and superior services.

USAG Schinnen's ACOE journey involved a copious organizational self-assessment, which compiles facts and comments by personnel in the organization. It also applies methods to gather the 'voice of the customer' and apply this data in the garrison's decision making process.

The improvements in performance, coupled with its aggressive application of Lean Six Sigma, another quality management tool used by the Army, enabled USAG Schinnen to save or avoid nearly $1 million in fiscal year 2009 while improving performance and customer service.

Meisen explained that the ACOE process is truly comprehensive. The garrison meets annually to validate their mission, vision, organizational values and goals - all of which are synchronized with its higher headquarters' strategic plan.

Then, throughout the year, the garrison is actively engaged in numerous action plans and Lean Six Sigma projects, which are all linked to the strategy, to ensure customer service and performance is improved or sustained.

In November 2008, USAG Schinnen's Army Community Service earned "accreditation with commendation," an achievement that directly impacts the quality of service to Soldiers and families.

During the ACOE presentation, Chiarelli noted that much of the credit for the awards "belongs with the installation leadership and the many people within our military communities as well as those in surrounding communities who have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure Soldiers and families feel at home."

(Portions of this story derive from an Army News Service report by By J.D. Leipold)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16