FORT STEWART, Ga. — Many aspects of how the Army conducts business at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield have been altered in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic threat.
Efforts to maintain social distancing among Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians require reduced manning at workplaces across the installations. Many units and Leaders have directed personnel to telework by means of virtual private networks and Outlook Web Access, as well as traditional means of communication like telephone and text messaging.
Many training events have been postponed, but there are still requirements to maintain readiness as the Army’s core responsibilities have not changed.
For many Soldiers, the “new normal” is different, but accountability and other readiness-related reporting requirements are still very familiar and remain responsibilities that must be completed. The various avenues of communication have proven to be effective thus far, according to many Soldiers at Fort Stewart.
“We’ve provided our critical personnel with VPN connection through our S6, and others are working through emails, and everybody still has their phones, so we can still call at any time,” said 2nd Lt. Timothy Newton, operations officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 385th Military Police Battalion.
According to Capt. Chris Heyward, the commander of the 546th Military Police Company, connecting with Soldiers face-to-face while maintaining social distancing standards maintains visual accountability and allows leaders to check in on Soldiers to ensure they are safe and healthy.
“We do have leaders going out and checking on individuals, especially those that are in the barracks,” Heyward said. “As of right now, I’m doing fine. My Soldiers are doing well, so no major issues here.”
Staff Sgt. Vincent Dillard, the Division Artillery Brigade career counselor with 3rd Infantry Division, said he and his team can work from home because VPN allows for connections to the systems they need to access.
“Although we are teleworking, we are still able to work to our full capabilities due to our VPN,” Dillard said. “We have access to everything at home that we have in the office. This allows us to stay home and still be productive.”