FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Col. Jeff Paine, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, hosted a town hall Feb. 24 at Nutter Field House for employees here — livestreamed to allow virtual participation. Topics included COVID-19 response, professional development opportunities and feedback from recent surveys. Paine also responded to questions from the audience.
The need to keep communications lines open with employees here is important, Paine said.
“It’s really good to see everybody here who came in person and folks that are online — thanks for joining us today,” he said.
Paine asked everyone to continue following what’s become known as the 3 Ws: wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, wear masks and watch your distance.
“Hang in there,” he said. “We are turning the corner. We are going to make it through this, but for the time being, we have to keep our defenses up.”
Paine mentioned the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program. He stressed getting the vaccine is voluntary.
“I would love to see everybody get vaccinated, but that is your decision,” he said.
Paine said data from medical experts validates the value of the vaccine, and he wants every member of the Fort Leonard Wood community to be able to make “an informed decision.”
Vince Carlton, workforce development specialist, discussed professional development opportunities, including the four-day employee orientation course that satisfies many mandatory trainings for those new here.
Additionally, Carlton said the week-long Supervisor Leadership Course includes self-awareness and emotional intelligence education.
“You learn a little bit about yourself and those around you,” he said.
Paine also invited Don Busbice Jr., garrison safety director, to comment on the recent Army Readiness Assessment Program — or ARAP, survey — in which about 300 garrison employees participated.
Busbice said “we’re building a safety culture” here, and safety grams are being sent to employees based on concerns received via feedback outlets such as the Interactive Customer Evaluation, or ICE.
Paine focused on the “inherent value” of every individual on the installation in regards to the Army’s efforts to end sexual assault and sexual harassment.
“When we’re talking about investing in our teams, or how we treat someone in the workplace … it comes back to ‘I believe you have value,’” he said.
Paine said sexual assault and sexual harassment are incompatible with the belief “that we all have value.”
Paine addressed questions from the audience, including the installation access policy. He said that although currently only Defense Department ID cardholders have access, requests for exceptions to policy are looked at for consideration.
In response to questions about bringing employees back from telework and resuming sports programs, Paine said he hopes to see Fort Leonard Wood be at Health Protection Condition Bravo soon so more programs can return.
Paine discussed results from a command climate survey completed in November that showed employees want more communication from senior leaders and further action to solve problems.
“We’re going to continue doing quarterly employee town halls and give you the opportunity to ask questions,” he said, adding the next event is scheduled for May 5. “I encourage everyone to attend.”