The U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held its first COVID-19 Town Hall in nearly two months. The last one was July 23.
Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, opened on a positive note, implying that while the end of the pandemic may not be in close sight, things are looking up.
“We have recently reached a significant milestone in getting our young family members back in school,” Hersey said. “In one form or another, it’s all about developing a routine and adjusting to our new normal for the stability of our families. I commend you all for doing that.”
Hersey said his weekly discussions with surrounding community leaders about best practices for keeping everyone safe and healthy continues, adding that his No. 1 focus remains the safety, health, and welfare of everyone – all of which General Order No. 1 is in place to help protect.
“As always, if you have any questions or concerns with the guidance in General Order No. 1, your chain of command is one of the best resources to address your concerns or questions,” he reiterated.
CCoE and Fort Gordon Command Sgt. Maj. Delia Quintero used the town hall to discuss priorities the chief of staff of the Army recently put out with regards to challenges surrounding the pandemic. At the top of the list was suicide prevention and awareness, which is formally observed during September. Quintero acknowledged that certain restrictions in place related to the pandemic have inevitably caused additional stress in many peoples’ lives. As a result, she urged everyone to take time out of their day to check on each other – not via text or email, but by actually making audible contact through telephone or in-person when possible.
“I just ask that as a community that we look to our left and right and make sure that we are gauging on how we’re doing mentally and continue to be resilient during this time,” she said.
Adding to Quintero’s comments, Col. John Batson, U.S. Army Signal School commandant, described a recent encounter he had with an NCO-instructor at Eisenhower Army Medical Center. Batson said that during their conversation, Batson learned that the NCO was there for an appointment with Behavioral Health – not for any specific reason, but because the NCO felt a need to talk to someone.
“I told him I was proud that he was there,” Batson said. “If you have that need or that desire, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with the folks at Behavioral Health and talk through some of the issues you may be having.”
Batson went on to say he is tremendously proud of the instructors on Fort Gordon, aware that they have been working incredibly hard – many of them working extra hours partly due to the pandemic. He also noted a “silver lining” to it all. The silver lining is that instructors are learning, and in some cases have come up with, different ways of providing classroom instruction that will likely continue beyond the pandemic.
“We’ve found a lot of different avenues of approach to operate in that we may continue even after the COVID crisis has been mitigated,” Batson said. “It’s going to shape the way we do training in the future and make it better.”
Briefly reflecting on the previous town hall, Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Shaw Pick said the community is in a different place now than it was back then and was happy to report some services have reopened. Still, now is not the time for anyone to let down their guard, he added.
“We are being very deliberate and cautious and tightly woven with the senior commander, the mission partners, and the (Dept. of Public Health) to constantly review our posture,” Pick said.
Services and amenities that have reopened since the last town hall include: playgrounds, Gordon Lanes Bowling Center and the Middle School/Teen Center. Religious services are now being offered in person again, Gate 5 hours have expanded, and the Barber Shop is now open to all eligible patrons. Looking ahead, the community can expect to see more happening.
“The inclination during the peak of the crisis was to cancel events, and we had to do that in a lot of cases. I’m happy to report that we’re starting to relook – rather than canceling – how can we reimagine doing things,” Pick said.
In closing, Hersey reminded the community to continue to abide by mitigation measures put in place by the command and other officials.
“It takes all of us to reduce the statistics, so please take it to heart,” he said. “It’s not just about us as individuals; it’s about all those we interact with, our families, our loved ones – our behavior affects them as well.”
The latest version of General Order No. 1 can be found on the Fort Gordon Facebook page and by visiting the Fort Gordon Homepage at home.army.mil/gordon/index.php/coronavirus.
For footage of the town hall and a link for the slides shown, visit the Fort Gordon Facebook page.