Under Secretary lauds Jackson COVID efforts
By Robert TimmonsSeptember 17, 2020
Army Training Center and Fort Jackson commander, Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr. was joined by two special guests during the Commanding General’s Virtual Town Hall on Special Topics Sept. 10.While on a tour of the installation, Under Secretary of the Army James E. McPherson sat on the panel and answered questions from viewers.Fort Jackson has routinely held virtual town halls since March to inform the extended Fort Jackson Family on what the post is doing to combat the COVID pandemic.“We want you to have the facts,” Beagle said. “If things change, we will let you know. We will continue to be transparent.”McPherson lauded Fort Jackson’s efforts during the pandemic.“When COVID invaded our shores a couple months ago we had to take a time out if you will -we call it taking a knee, to protect your Soldiers while they are in this training environment,” McPherson said during the opening minutes of the town hall. To protect the Soldiers, Beagle and other Army leaders came up with a “bubble” concept to keep training despite the threat of the pandemic.The concept has been so successful it has been emulated by other organizations, the undersecretary said. Fort Jackson’s bubble is comprised of restricted access to post, cancellation of Family Day and in-person graduations, temperature screenings at access control points, social distancing and mask wear.“The National Basketball Association, the NBA, actually contacted the Army. They had heard about our bubble theory and they wanted to hear about the bubble. They adopted it and began playing basketball again.” The same thing happened to Major League Baseball and the (National Football League), he added.Patricia Shorter, a Department of the Army Civilian and parent of a trainee, joined the panel remotely by and called on Family members listening in to encourage their trainees.“For me I would say having installation access, having a DOD ID as a civilian and a dependent/retiree, it still doesn’t make it easy to see my trainee,” she said. “Tell your Soldiers to stay strong, stay resilient and stay focused. As a parent, it is challenging even when we have credentials to access the installation.“Keep your Soldiers encouraged,” she added, “even though it is being on the telephone and saying, ‘how much we miss you,’ ... Keep them encouraged and pray for them always.”She added it is a challenge not being far away but still not being able to see her Soldier.Shorter didn’t go see her trainee even though she was so close, Beagle said. By not going to see trainee she was helping keep Fort Jackson’s “bubble” intact.Col. Jeremiah Stubbs, Public Health Emergency Officer at Moncrief Army Health Clinic, provided the audience with updates on the pandemic and especially contact tracing.“We do a good job of contacting and looking for and forcing a response to any of our individuals who are considered close contact to any of our train and cadre who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Stubbs said. “We would ask everyone in the community if you get that call, or you find out you are COVID positive and someone calls you asking you questions about who you came in contact with. Please verify that person … is legitimate and help us out.“This is a public health emergency and we are doing everything that we can to make sure everyone who has come in contact with this virus is isolated appropriately, or has taken adequate precautions.”Stubbs also encouraged everyone to get a flu shot. “Let’s start early,” he said.In the town hall the following information was recapped:-Trainees have phone privileges at arrival, if they test positive for COVID, if there is an emergency or serious injury, or at the unit’s discretion.- No changes have been made to mail distribution even though mail is slow. Beagle also reiterated the post can’t hold mail.- Families cannot pick up their trainee after graduation unless they have a split option Soldier and live within a 210 mile radius from Fort Jackson.- Trainees will not be able to take leave after graduation.- Family day and graduations are privileged and not a right.- Post access is Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.To view the entire town hall visit: https://www.facebook.com/fortjackson/live/The next Commanding General’s Virtual Town Hall on Special Topics will streamed live Sept. 24 at www.facebook.com/FortJacksonCommandingGeneral beginning at 3:30 p.m.