By Aiko Brum, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsJune 6, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The Army Hawaii community has a new communications tool to ask questions about community issues and concerns directly to the garrison commander, appropriately called "Ask the Commander."
Soldiers, family members and civilians can get concerns addressed and questions answered when "Ask the Commander" debuts this month.
"This community information program was specifically created to enhance two-way communication between U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) and the customers we serve," said Col. Matthew Margotta, garrison commander.
Customer Management Services (CMS) has been busy letting the community know about the new program.
"We're very excited about getting the word out to our community," said Ophelia Isreal, CMS program manager. "We've been briefing at the Senior Spouse Information Meeting (SIM) and are going to the town halls as well. We hope that this will be a fun way of engaging our community while giving them the opportunity to ask questions about garrison services. "
All garrison directorates, support staff and services provide some method for customers to engage in two-way communication, but "Ask the Commander" will offer online, print and broadcast synergies.
"Community members are encouraged to ask about things that effect living and working on our installations," said Margotta. "For example, you might ask 'why wasn't the work on Lyman Gate or the road work at Tripler done throughout the night to speed it up and help the traffic congestion''"
Customers may submit questions to AskTheCommander@hawaii.army.mil or ask questions during monthly TV2 tapings.
"Our goal is to offer opportunities at a new location each month, where members of our Army community can voice their questions directly on camera," said Jack Wiers of the USAG-HI Public Affairs Office (PAO). "We will begin with Aliamanu and station our camera outside the AMR (Aliamanu Military Reservation) community center, June 8th, at 11 a.m. The goal is community involvement."
All submitted questions will go directly to the garrison commander, then the questions will be answered in the Hawaii Army Weekly newspaper and broadcast on TV2, a channel available on Army installations.
Due to newspaper space limitations, only a sampling of the questions received can be printed, but the commander will be made aware of all customer concerns and select those questions that have community-wide impacts. Generally, USAG-HI directorates and support staff will research queries and provide responses.
"From start to finish, each cycle of 'Ask the Commander' will take about four weeks," Isreal said. "That allows us time to research the questions thoroughly and provide responses."
"Ask the Commander" adds to the many ways customers can communicate within USAG-HI. Prime among other methods are the Interactive Customer Evaluation program, or ICE, and quarterly town hall meetings.
Additionally, Customer Management Services hosts periodic focus groups and assessments to gauge the pulse of the community; the Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) provides a Community Relations Office (655-5170) and an anonymous crime tip link at www.MilitaryCrimeTips.com; Army Hawaii Family Housing (AHFH) provides a variety of resources, including a resident feedback link at www.ArmyHawaiiFamilyHousing.com/resident_feedback; and the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) solicits service orders and customer comments at www.25idl. army.mil/dpw/customer_service.html.
Another initiative has been established to synchronize all aspects of community information and two-way communication: the Installation Action Council.
The IAC is made up of Soldier and spouse representatives from each brigade and command, and from constituent groups, such as retirees, veterans and single Soldiers.
"Since the council members are from our tenant units and constituent groups," Isreal explained, "issues are discussed with the perspective and interest of our community."
Margotta chairs the IAC. Council members will have a unique opportunity to talk with him to get his input and share their concerns directly with him.
Also, to ensure the garrison is communicating with cyberspace-savvy Soldiers, family members and civilians, the USAG-HI PAO provides links from the garrison homepage to popular Web destinations.
Currently, PAO manages garrison links to Twitter and Flickr - one a popular micro-blogging site, the other for uploading photographs. At either link, customers can interact with postings and get questions answered.
What: "Ask the Commander"
When: TV2 taping, June 8, from 11 a.m. to noon
Where: Aliamanu Military Reservation Community Center.
Who: Army Hawaii Soldiers, family members and civilians
POCs: Call Ophelia Isreal (808-655-9303) at Customer Management Services, or Aiko Brum (808-656-3155) or Jack Wiers (808-656-3489) at the USAG-HI Public Affairs Office.
Send e-mails to AskTheCommander@hawaii.army.mil to get your questions answered.