U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford “Beags” Beagle Jr., and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah Gan hosted the installation’s ninth virtual town hall April 23 to inform Soldiers, civilians and their Family members of changes across the installation during the COVID-19 pandemic.Beagle opened the town hall by announcing the arrival of new trainees after a two week pause. During that time the 120th Reception Battalion installed plexiglass barriers to protect civilian work staff from being exposed to or spreading a virus while in-processing the recruits.The pause also allowed seamstresses, who usually customize Army service uniforms, to produce cloth face masks for new trainees arriving as well as permanent party Soldiers across the installation.Enhanced social distancing procedures were also implemented at the reception battalion to further reduce trainee’s exposure to the virus.“We had great conditions set, but we took this time to set more conditions for our workforce,” Beagle said. “Priority number one is to protect our force, to protect our mission.”Beagle continued the town hall by explaining the continued success of the Fort Jackson Exchange’s gift card program. Family members of freshly graduated Soldiers and those currently attending Advanced Individual Training at the installation can show support for their Soldier by purchasing a gift card at myfortjacksonsoldier@aafes.com. Once purchased, Soldiers can pick their gifts cards up at the customer service desk where their picture will be taken receiving their gift and send to the card purchaser. (For more information see the story on Page XX)“It is a way to contribute and show your support for your Soldier,” Beagle said. “I know our Soldiers appreciate it.”Beagle also talked about the largest change to military operations during the past week which included the announcement of the Secretary of Defense extending military wide travel restrictions. Soldiers and Department of Defense workforce are restricted from long distance leisure travel and Permanent Change of Stations to help prevent the spread of exposure to the virus. Travel restriction have been extended from May 25 until June 30.“I also sent up a request to extend the public health emergency,” Beagle said. “The reason I need to extend that public health emergency is that it … enables me to have the authorities I need to ensure and enforce compliance as we start to apply a plan to work our way back to a steady state.”Steady state is the outcome of a plan to return to operations pre-virus with enhanced health and security measures in place to ensure the Fort Jackson community remains healthy and safe as the installation continues to produce mentally and physically tough, professionally trained Soldiers.Beagle confirmed the continued need to wear masks when entering public facilities such as The Exchange, commissary, shoppettes and medical facilities.Hours, spending limits and reduced available quantities of paper goods and disinfectants remain the same at The Exchange, while the Commissary’s $300 spending limit was recently removed.Retirees and beneficiaries are still allowed on post Tuesdays and Fridays only.“I will tell you that the Tuesdays and Fridays will remain for a while,” Beagle said. “We are not going to rush to failure by mixing two vulnerable populations of people, retires and beneficiaries, and our trainees.”Joining the town hall were Chaplain (Capt.) Antoinette Stewart, 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, and Chaplain (1st Lt.) Ryan Rhodes of 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.“I look after the spiritual and emotion wellbeing of everyone in our unit,” Rhodes said. “Providing Religious Support to trainees has been critical in sustaining their morale and welfare throughout not only their training but the real-world anxieties that COVID-19 has brought as well.”Rhodes and Stewart explained how they are supporting trainees throughout their training experience and the battle against the spread of the virus. Frequently battalion chaplains provide counsel to trainees in addition to religious services. Though each chaplain practices their own faith, they provide various religious services to help accommodate the many faiths practiced by trainees and cadre.Trainees “are far more concerned about their Families and friends back home than they are about themselves.” Rowden said. “They are very selfless.”“Chaplains on Fort Jackson have not stopped moving. We are relentless in caring for our nation’s most precious resource … people … our trainees, cadre, Department of Defense civilians and their Family members” Stewart said. “We are taking full advantage of our virtual platforms to be able to provide our religious support while in keeping social distancing.”Beagle and Gan finished out the town hall during the “fast 40” segment. The command team takes the last 40 minutes of each town hall to address questions presented from Facebook users who post and email their questions throughout the town halls.One of the top questions asked included how long it will take to transport trainees to their Advanced Individual Training site or home for those who have a “split option” contract.Beagle explained that transporting trainees by ground transportation has been averaging a week. Recently, trainees have been transported by air to their training sites such as San Antonio, Texas. Air transportation has been taking longer than ground transportation due to the level of coordination to schedule flights that can meet and maintain safety and health standards.Another question asked concerned the ability of Family members to PCS with their spouses who will attend the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy.“Yes and no,” Gan said. “It depends on if your (spouse) meets the exception to policy criteria.”The academy suspended operations for a few weeks to help cripple the spread and exposure of Soldiers to the virus. The next class will begin June 4. Those attending the course were allowed to attend the class with an exception to policy for the extended travel restrictions due to the need to fill drill sergeant positions. The class will be smaller to help continue meeting social distancing requirements.“The class will start and those attending will have to go through the same process for Basic Combat Training,” Gan said. “They will be tested and quarantined before beginning the drill sergeant school process. We don’t want to put either of those populations in jeopardy.”“We appreciate you tuning in to remain informed,” Beagle said as he closed the virtual town hall. “Going forward, we will not have a town hall every week but every other week. We will use the time in between (town halls) to do what we need to do and we appreciate all of you being here to view this.”The next virtual town hall is scheduled for May 7 at 3:30 p.m. on the Fort Jackson Commanding General’s Facebook page.