COVID-19 doesn't sideline Eighth Army personnel actions

By Sgt. Alexzandria GomezApril 19, 2020

COVID-19 doesn't sideline personnel actions
Sgt. Victoria Gill, a human resource specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, takes notes as she speaks with customers over the phone in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea, on Camp Humphreys, April 16, 2020. Gill is practicing social distancing by reducing the number of people she comes into contact with by handling military personnel actions over the phone. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alexzandria Gomez) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP HUMPHREYS, SOUTH KOREA -- Human resources, also known as S1, is where service members look to when they need their administrative problems solved

effectively. Pay, awards, promotions and personnel actions are usually the inquiries they deal with every day, but what about global pandemics?

Since the beginning of COVID-19, Eighth Army has had to deal with daily changes in Army and DOD policies, which can be confusing. Many service members were left in limbo during major events like permanent change of station and expiration of term in service transitions and looked to S1 to save the day.

“Since the stop movement order we have tried our best to go to minimal manning, but it is difficult because of the nature of our job,” said Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, S1 officer in charge Capt. Nekela Kelley. “Processes still have to continue.”

With everything moving at such a rapid pace, Kelley has to keep her Soldiers focused on the mission, but also find ways to boost their morale.

“We like to find time to come together and just talk and laugh as a shop,” said Kelley. “We make sure we stay engaged and find ways to relieve stress.”

Actions non-commissioned officer in the S1 shop, Sgt. Victoria Gill, with HHB, 2nd Infantry Division, also feels the effects of the coronavirus. She, like many others, worry about the opportunities she may lose out on because of COVID-19.

“I’m worried that my DEROS will be pushed back because of the stop movement order,” said Gill. “If I am kept in Korea longer than my (date estimated return from overseas), I may lose my (next) assignment and will be forced to spend another Christmas away from my family.”

Kelley is experiencing her own hardships as well. Due to COVID-19 restrictions she is forced to celebrate her birthday at home with her family on FaceTime instead of on leave visiting with them, in a nearby country, or exploring Korea.

“Despite the conditions we are experiencing right now I just thank God that I am still healthy and I still have a career that provides for me,” said Kelley. “I really have no reason to complain.”

She also expressed her hopefulness for the future. She shared how important it is to stay resilient and utilize this time the best way she knows how.

“One thing that is keeping me together is knowing that this too shall pass and eventually life will go back to being somewhat normal,” said Kelley. “I have realized that I can only control the things that I can and with what I can’t control I continue to hold on and stay optimistic.”

“If I were to give anyone advice, it would be to not focus on the negative. Spend this time to develop yourself and become a better you,” said Kelley.