ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command is getting to know its sixth senior enlisted advisor since the command's 2004 establishment.
Command Sgt. Maj. Henney Hodgkins comes to the 20th after serving as the U.S. Army CBRN School Regimental Command Sergeant Major.
While her background is in the chemical corps, she is looking forward to broadening her understanding of the explosive ordnance disposal mission.
"Serving as the regimental command sergeant major afforded me the opportunity to engage and get to know many of the officers, NCOs and Soldiers of the chemical corps. This position allowed me to understand the challenges our Soldiers are faced with daily on a much broader scale," said Hodgkins. "I'm excited for this opportunity to serve as the 20th CBRNE Command's command sergeant major and am looking forward to expanding my understanding of what explosive ordnance disposal Soldiers do and gaining a better perspective of their missions and needs."
Hodgkins and Brig. Gen. James Bonner, commander of the 20th CBRNE Command, want to ensure the organization's Soldiers are ready when their country calls.
"The Army Chief of Staff's No. 1 priority is readiness," she said. "Overall, I will travel the length and width of the command's footprint checking on Soldiers; making sure they have what is needed to execute the mission; and getting them what they need to stay physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy."
According to Hodgkins, the best way to drive Soldiers toward success and readiness is spending time with them and learning about the issues and challenges they face day to day.
"Interaction with Soldiers is critical to mission success," she explained. "These engagements allow me to provide candid and honest feedback to the commanding general."
Hodgkins said she recognizes the unique challenges of connecting with the command's Soldiers, who are located on 19 installations in 16 states and include both active and reserve component forces.
"I have to get out and spend time with the Soldiers," she said. "I will travel a great deal with Brig. Gen. Bonner. However, at times, I will travel with other staff members to assess different aspects of the command."
Hodgkins comes to her new position with a variety of experience, including an assignment as the command sergeant major for the Army garrison at Yongsan, South Korea. She said she learned a lot during that assignment.
"My service in Yongsan had more to do with understanding the uniqueness of being the CSM of a small city," she said. "Exposure to the financial side of the military as it relates to the different 'pots' of money was frustrating at times, but knowing the regulatory requirements proved beneficial."
That assignment also exposed her to a wide array of services beyond the operational Army.
"I had the opportunity to work with range planning and training, transportation, facilities maintenance, utilities, police and gate guards, fire and emergency services, dining halls, laundry facilities, daycare centers, gyms, and the list goes on."
As an African-American woman and a naturalized citizen from Liberia in West Africa, Hodgkins said she is grateful for the opportunities she has had in the Army.
"My career path is quite unlike others within the chemical corps," said Hodgkins, who enlisted from Arlington, Virginia. "I had the opportunity to serve as the command sergeant major with the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, during Operation New Dawn in Iraq. This provided me a unique opportunity to work outside of my military occupational skillset. I was able to gain a better understanding of the logistical operations required for garrison and combat operations."
The assignment also gave Hodgkins greater exposure to medics, mechanics, and food service specialists.
"I worked with medics and was able to gain a better understanding of what it takes to operate the different levels of care," she said. "The 91 and 92 series military occupational specialties within the organization expanded my knowledge with respect to maintenance operation requirements for a brigade combat team in combat, and the execution needed for a logistics package operation to food service operations."
In addition to her responsibilities to the command's Soldiers and civilians, Hodgkins said she is committed to its family members, particularly in helping them manage the stress that comes with deployments.
"As Soldiers, we can never get back those missed birthdays and special occasions that take place during deployment and time away from family and friends."
Hodgkins summarized her view as a command sergeant major as "engagement with Soldiers and their families and accomplishment of the mission. Every time I interact with a service member, I try to take something away from that conversation and impart wisdom based on knowledge and experience.
"She looks forward to working with all members of the 20th CBRNE Command team and with all the commands that support this great organization."
Hodgkins holds a master's degree in human resource development, and management and leadership from Webster University and has completed all levels of the noncommissioned officers education system, including the nominative leader's course. She is a graduate of the battle staff course, first sergeants course, U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Leader Course, U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, technical escort, airborne school, master fitness trainer, and various leadership and CBRN courses stateside and abroad.
Her military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Parachutist's Badge, and the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge. She is a member of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club and a recipient of the Ancient Order of the Dragon.