FORT LEE, Va. - Members of the U.S. Army Ordnance School took part in a DOD-wide extremism stand-down this week.
The directive for the stand-down was detailed in a memorandum signed by the Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. He emphasized, “Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment. It is incumbent upon each of us to ensure that actions associated with these corrosive behaviors are prevented.”
All military departments were subsequently ordered to complete the stand-down by April 1.
Ordnance professionals, including Army civilians and students, participated in sessions that addressed the impacts of extremism in the ranks and other impermissible behaviors.
Additionally, personnel also discussed the Army Values, social media, suicide awareness, the HATCH Act, sexual harassment/assault and the oath of military and government civilian service.
At the company level, leaders held candid conversations with students new to the Army profession, answering hard questions and offering advice on how to serve with dignity and respect.
”Students were impressively engaged and interactive during the HATCH Act discussion,” said Staff Sgt. Devyn J. Pierson, a wheeled vehicle maintenance instructor at the Ordnance school.
The training generated thoughts that lead to additional discussion. An Army civilian shared his personal story, alerting the group that a person at risk of suicide does not always show the typical warning signs. He followed his story with a message of hope, an invitation to talk, and a reminder to check on your coworkers to see how they are doing.
Another shared her personal experience of a racist rant by a superior nearly two decades ago and the toll that took on her personally and professionally.
“I am touched by the transparency of our personnel and their willingness to share personal stories that build trust and open the lines of communication,” said Brig. Gen. Michelle M.T. Letcher, U.S. Army Ordnance School commandant.
Letcher offered her final thoughts going forward.
“We must have the hard conversations, listen to understand and apply our leadership to drive change and root out the corrosives.”