FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz.-- Since the COVID-19 crisis began in February and March of 2020 many U.S. Army Soldiers under telework, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders have looked for ways to stay physically, mentally and spiritually fit. One of the Soldiers coping and staying fit during COVID-19 is Network Enterprise Technology Command’s, (NETCOM’s) Master Sgt. Thomas Jeffrey (T.J.) Trent, Theater Operations NCOIC for the Regional Cyber Center (RCC), Continental United States (CONUS).
Not only is Master Sgt. Trent coping with the new normal of the COVID-19 environment, he is also geographically separated from his wife La Shawn who is Fort Hood, Texas. Through the use of social media to remain in contact with his wife and his dedication to a strict regime of daily physical fitness, Trent is proving people can stay resilient and optimistic living under the shadow of COVID-19.
Trent explains how his long Army career full of deployments and separations has helped him and his wife learn to cope with the current COVID-19 atmosphere these past few months.
“Over the course of 18 years in the military we have spent about 6 years apart. Four tours of duty in Iraq, two years in Korea, and a job that required me to go TDY every other week prepared us.”
“Honestly, for La Shawn and me, we are just executing as if I was deployed again. We are both very vested in our careers and that helps along with our interests outside of work. We both stay very busy. Physical and mental fitness is a big part of how we continue to excel in our relationship and our careers,” said Trent.
Both Trent and his wife stay connected on a daily basis and often compare similarities and differences between the Arizona and Texas lock-downs.
“We use FaceTime a lot and we communicate multiple times throughout the day.”
“[Fort Hood] is very much like it is here. The gyms are closed and the State has imposed orders to limit movement,” said Trent.
Although gyms are closed in Texas and Arizona, both Trent and his wife find time to exercise.
“La Shawn spends a lot of time working on various projects around the house and she also walks a lot. She is very active and concerned about her health so physical fitness is important.”
“To stay safe she stays at home and only goes out as needed. She enjoys her time alone so this hasn’t really changed much for her lifestyle,” said Trent.
Trent describes some of the things he is doing to stay fit.
“I normally run for 20-30 minutes three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Along with running, I divide my strength training by five days and work my entire body over those five days. I also work core exercise into each session.”
“I have changed my approach to a more traditional strength training and cardio approach. I really love the weight lifting, which I had neglected for many years until recently. Unfortunately, for many years all I did was run, pushups, and sit-ups,” said Trent.
Trent says the PT helps him focus mentally but does other things to cope with the pandemic environment.
“I stay away from all the news and social media regarding COVID-19. I try to do my own research about what is going on and implement the CDC guidelines,” said Trent.
Like many Soldiers working for NETCOM, Trent had concerns regarding the impact COVID-19 would have on his work routine but explains how his leadership remained proactive. Trent recalls his supervisors’ collective attitude about the new work environment.
“Honestly, the priority was to make sure the work environment was safe. Even before the Army issued the ‘change of mission’ NETCOM’s direction was clear,” said Trent.
“We need to make sure our people are healthy so we can continue to support the mission,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Gilbert, NETCOM RCC Director, as Trent recalled.
“Early on in March the senior leaders began meeting three times a week to develop and refine our operational plan,” said Trent.
“Team work has allowed us to devise a plan that maximizes the health of our employees while supporting our mission to operate, maintain, and defend the CONUS Army’s Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN-A),” says Trent regarding his team.
Overall Trent is a survivor and credits his team at work and his strong relationship with his wife along with his resiliency to capitalize on his physical and metal fitness strategies. Likewise, Trent gives this advice to those who are contemplating staying fit during the pandemic.
“Don’t fall for the excuses about lack of equipment etc… You can get a great workout with limited or no equipment,” said Trent.
“It is nice to have access to the gyms but it is not a requirement to staying in shape or getting into better shape. Use your imagination and get creative!”