As in years past, Americans will pause the last Monday in May to honor the men and women who have died in defense of our great nation. This duty of remembrance is one we accept willingly and gladly, and the quality of your continued service ensures their sacrifices will never be considered in vain. Thank you for what you do every day for our country and our Army.

This year’s observance will look different, however, due to COVID-19. Between self-isolation, social distancing, limitations on public events and Department of Defense force protection guidelines, your plans for this long holiday weekend have most likely changed. But what endures is the need for continuous, holistic risk management in everything you do.

On duty, the overwhelming majority of Army mishap fatalities occur during mission transitions like routine vehicle movements to or from a training area. Simply put, we focus so intensely on the decisive operation or what we’ve determined is the riskiest portion of the mission that we lose sight of other, more common hazards. The Army conducts a lot of high risk training and missions every single day … and we do it extremely well, managing risk throughout. Losing Soldiers during routine, simple missions is not only preventable, it’s proof we’re letting our guard down. We can do better in managing these transitions.

We are in a similar transition period now, as states reopen and commanders Army-wide lift restrictions on Soldier activities. We can’t let cabin fever and the need to “get out” narrow our view of the total risk picture. The scenic roadways, beaches and all the other wonderful places you’ve missed will still be there even if you take some extra time to ease back to normal and formulate a plan to be successful. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself, “What are the three most dangerous things I am about to do and how do I mitigate them?”

The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center stands ready to help. Our newest offering, the 2020 Off Duty Safety Awareness Presentation, was just released and addresses persistent hazards Soldiers face in their personal time. You may find it and many other risk management tools on our website,

We wish you and yours a safe, healthy and enjoyable Memorial Day. Thank you again for your service to our nation.

People First ─ Winning Matters!

Andrew C. Hilmes, Brigadier General, USA, Commanding

William L. Gardner II, Command Sergeant Major

2020 Memorial Day Message.pdf [PDF - 158.7 KB]