CG talks HBL at town hall
By Brian HillNovember 24, 2020
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Bonner hosted a town hall Nov. 23, livestreamed to the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page from Lincoln Hall Auditorium.Bonner spoke on the need to ensure a safe and relaxing Holiday Block Leave experience for the Fort Leonard Wood community.“The Army puts its people first,” Bonner said. “To protect our people is to protect Fort Leonard Wood’s mission, part of which is to train, inspire and lead 80,000 of our American sons and daughters each year … the leadership team is incredibly proud of each teammate on this post.”Bonner called Holiday Block Leave “vital to the wellbeing of our people.”“We must take care of the physical, mental and spiritual health of our military, civilians and families,” he added.Senior leaders confirmed that HBL is scheduled from the days prior to Christmas until just after New Year’s Day. Soldiers will be screened for COVID-19 prior to departure and anyone with symptoms will be tested and quarantined, which may delay their travel.“Our intent is to give everyone an opportunity to go home for a little while, even if not for the whole Holiday Block Leave period,” said Col. Aaron Bohrer, MSCoE chief of operations, plans and training.Bonner and several senior leaders responded to commonly posted questions during the town hall, including plans for testing Soldiers for COVID-19 when arriving back at Fort Leonard Wood.“Upon return, all Soldiers will be medically screened,” Bohrer said. “If symptomatic, they will be tested and quarantined. The safety of our trainees, permanent party and Fort Leonard Wood community is our top priority.”If someone in a unit tests positive for COVID-19 prior to HBL, trace teams will determine who else may need to be quarantined or isolated, which may affect leave plans, Bohrer noted.“We go with our medical advice, based off the trace analysis,” he said. “So, not everybody in a company would be held back; it would be only those who were in close proximity (with the COVID-positive person) for a duration of time.”Bohrer spoke on the restriction of movement policy that will be in place for personnel upon return from HBL.“Basically, they go from their barracks to their place of work,” he said. “The idea is to allow the virus to run a viral load and potentially we might find anybody else who was exposed that will develop symptoms later without exposing additional personnel.”The town hall can be viewed in its entirety on the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fortleonardwoodmissouri/videos/3255483354561094.More information on HBL is available on the Fort Leonard Wood homepage at https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/Garrison/pao/hbl.