FORT CARSON, Colo. — The world has reached a full year since the pandemic began, and for communities across the U.S. and the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, this year has been full of challenges. But U.S. Army Soldiers are no strangers to change — while the pandemic provided vastly different obstacles, this is what Soldiers are trained for: overcoming adversity.

From the beginning, Fort Carson’s leaders were consistent in ensuring the community’s safety; and many trainings, classes and meetings were held virtually.

“We want to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew W. McFarlane, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, at the very first of many virtual town halls March 16, 2020. “As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative that we continue to communicate effectively to everyone within our area, and provide the most accurate and timely information to all of our service members, civilians and Family members.”

In the interests of the Soldiers and their Families, many buildings closed, deployments were postponed, permanent changes-of-station were shifted to the right and virus testing centers were stood up. The post ebbed and flowed through waves of rising and falling cases. However, the Soldiers adjusted smoothly as a national emergency was declared, travel bans were implemented and mask and stay-at-home orders were put in place.

During Task Force Overwatch, under the rotation of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., the brigade posted Soldiers at various facilities on post. The Soldiers asked patrons a series of medical screening questions, ensured people sanitized or washed their hands before entering the building, and took temperatures as well.

As the Centennial Regional Training Institute (RTI) became a quarantine site for those with the virus, Soldiers donned full protective gear to bring fellow Soldiers’ food, and others built partitions for the RTI’s bay rooms.

The division continued overcoming obstacles and adapting to a new normal.

“I’m proud of the way all of our Soldiers, civilians and Families are responding to the threat of the virus, but we must move beyond protect and respond,” McFarlane said in the April 22, 2021, virtual town hall. “We are now focused on protecting the force and adapting our normal activities, while applying COVID-19 preventive measures to enable us to do what we get paid to do — be prepared to answer the nation’s call wherever and whenever it comes. Here on post, we will continue to adapt training activities as well.”

The Soldiers found creative ways to train and remain ready to fight. With the rollout of the new Army Combat Fitness Test, many found ways to do physical fitness in smaller groups while remaining socially distanced, others followed the Mountain Post Living’s advice to hike outside. Soldiers still met training mission requirements, and found ways to complete various annual competitions while following the Fort Carson and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s safety guidance.

As curfews and restrictions were implemented and dissolved, the post leaders encouraged vigilance.

The Ivy Warrior Restaurants and the Outpost food truck also made adjustments, serving to-go meals only, and encouraged healthy eating, as the pandemic affected many levels of activity.

In October 2020, Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy announced that “people” will now be the Army’s top priority, and Fort Carson pushed forward.

And as the holidays came, new cases rose and safety precautions did too. Soldiers and their Families were still able to watch the Christmas tree lighting at Iron Horse Park, but from their vehicles. However, Fort Carson Soldiers have always been part of the community during the holidays, and with the People First initiative, the Soldiers were still able to be a light — cooking and delivering Thanksgiving meals to local Salvation Army facilities for those in need.

As a new year began, many people had hope for an end to the coronavirus. And hopes became a reality as the federal government worked to create a vaccine at the end of 2020. Division leaders volunteered to get vaccinated, to encourage community members to also get vaccinated and to show that the vaccine is safe.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, hundreds of Soldiers across Fort Carson were deployed to various hot spots around the country to assist in the testing process. As time progressed and vaccines became available, the division’s troops continued to deploy, setting up vaccination sites and administering the vaccine. With Soldiers currently in California and New Jersey, Fort Carson Soldiers continue to make an impact.

With light at the end of the tunnel as many receive the vaccine, the Mountain Post looks to begin opening events that have been closed for the past year, such as sports events, which are tentatively set to begin in May 2021.

Post leaders still encourage people to get the vaccine.

“Anyone notified of eligibility to receive the vaccine can book an appointment by calling the Colorado Military Health System Access to Care line at 719-526-2273,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Nash, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson. “But now community members have a second option by calling the vaccination site directly at 719-503-0820, Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m.”

McFarlane said in the latest town hall, March 17, 2021, that across the nation numbers continue to decline in case rates and deaths.

Therefore, summer 2021 is hopeful to look different than summer 2020, McFarlane also said in the latest town hall that leaders are looking to conduct Ivy Week activities from June 28, 2021 to July 2, 2021, culminating with Freedom Fest at Iron Horse Park.

“All events will be outdoors,” he said. “Soldier units will compete in softball, ultimate frisbee, an obstacle course, a pistol competition and more. We’ll start the week with a division run on Monday morning and end it with fireworks at Iron Horse park on Friday evening. So, get out there and train up with your teammates.”