Fort Leonard Wood leadership held a virtual town hall Wednesday — live streamed via the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page — to address COVID-19 community concerns and reiterate the total commitment required of everyone to help stop the spread of the virus.
Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, focused her remarks on praising the sacrifices and adjustments being made across the installation to conduct daily operations while also mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“Your actions in times like these are the picture – the essence – of selfless service,” she said.
Martin also said that in the interest of operational security, the Defense Department and Army have directed that COVID-19 case information will only be reported for aggregation and release at the service level.
“So, in order to protect our people and sustain our missions, we will no longer release case information,” she said. “We have sound preventive measures, and we have sound protocols and procedures for screening, testing and care.”
Martin said that individuals who test positive will remain in isolation and receive appropriate medical care.
“And trace teams will continue to work with public health and will continue to notify those who may have had contact with or been exposed to positive cases,” she said.
“Our thoughts remain with those who are recovering,” she added.
Martin then reminded the community that the COVID-19 battlefield requires a total commitment from everyone. To ensure commanders have the authority required to establish “total-force compliance, we have declared a public health emergency which applies to all military, families, DoD employees, retirees, contractors and others with access to this base.”
Martin said those who choose to not comply with Fort Leonard Wood General Order No. 1, could receive adverse administrative or criminal charges and could be temporarily or permanently barred from post.
“We need you to follow health protection condition orders like your life depends on it,” she said, “because your life and everyone else’s actually does depend on it.”
During her update, Martin answered questions commonly received about training, which continues on Fort Leonard Wood “because duty calls and because the nation requires it.”
Martin said the installation is working with higher headquarters on procedures for the most effective, safe transportation for Soldiers going to Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, One Station Unit Training and First Units of Assignment.
Because of the need for sterile transportation designed for trainee safety, Martin said there are currently no privately owned vehicle pickups authorized during, between or after initial military training and there is no leave in between movement.
She also said Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers in training or temporary duty assignment status at Fort Leonard Wood are authorized return travel upon mission completion.
“Each case is being worked individually based on their chains of command and state requirements, but they are authorized to move,” she said.
Martin asked Col. Kimberlie Biever, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander, to provide tips and reminders on how the mission-essential workforce on the installation can best protect themselves and their loved ones.
Biever said social distancing – keeping six feet apart at all times – is still very important, as is avoiding gathering in groups.
She said to help alleviate the close proximity of people at the pharmacy, drive-up service will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning Monday at the Post Exchange Pharmacy.
Biever also said anyone arriving at home after a work day should change clothes, take a shower and wash their hands before greeting families. In addition, packages should be wiped down before being brought into the home.
Fort Leonard Wood and Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge also spoke about military expectations and gave some advice on taking care of families.
He said many drill sergeants can expect to have their tour of duty involuntarily extended by six months if they were due to finish between March 31 and September 30. More information on that policy can be found on the Fort Leonard Wood website Frequently Asked Questions page, at https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/coronavirus-faq.
Breckinridge also reminded everyone that teleworking is still considered being on duty and that anyone can be recalled at any time.
Finally he reminded parents and children that although many schools have closed their campuses, school work is still happening – he said to remember to log in, do homework and interact with teachers online.
“Command Sergeant Major and I appreciate every service and family member, every health care worker, every service support organization and staff,” Martin said. “You must follow all HPCON C measures. Maximize staying home and only leave for the most essential life necessities like work, going out for groceries and medical appointments. Practice good hygiene and remain physically distanced. Together, we have risen to one of the greatest global challenges of our time, and we will overcome it together.”
For the latest information, visit the Fort Leonard Wood COVID-19 page at https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/coronavirus, as well as the installation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fortleonardwoodmissouri.