Fort Leonard Wood graduations to reopen for in-person visitors in May
Trainees assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, graduate Basic Combat Training on Gammon Field this month. Family and friends will soon be able to watch their Soldier graduate in person at Fort Leonard Wood once again with precautionary measures in place, after COVID-19 mitigation protocols forced leaders here to hold ceremonies virtually. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dawn Arden) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Family and friends will soon be able to watch their Soldiers graduate here in person.

Officials from the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood said plans to allow in-person visitors are being carried out in a phased approach.

Graduations for functional courses, basic officer leadership courses, captains career courses and courses with the NCO Academy will be open to in-person visitors starting May 1; One Station Unit Training and Advanced Individual Training, May 20; and Basic Combat Training, May 27.

Soldiers in training will contact their family, friends and loved ones to provide information about their specific graduations. Units will also provide updates and additional information on their social media sites. Units will continue to provide graduations virtually on their social media sites as well.

COVID-19 safety measures in place

Fort Leonard Wood follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and face coverings are required of everyone attending graduations. In addition, social distancing will be observed and hand-washing stations will be available on site.

To provide another layer of protection, all graduations with more than 50 graduates will be held outdoors, weather permitting. If a graduation is moved inside due to unexpected circumstances, such as weather, visitors may not be allowed to attend the graduation if social distancing cannot be observed in the indoor facility. If this happens, the graduation will be available to view virtually on the unit’s Facebook page and Soldiers will be able to visit their family and friends on family day and before and after the graduation ceremony based on what the unit has planned.

Although vaccinations are highly encouraged, they are not required to attend graduations on Fort Leonard Wood at this time. However, units may have additional safety measures in place.

“The best advice I can give is to follow your Soldier’s unit on social media,” said Col. Richard Ball, MSCoE chief of staff. “That’s one of the best ways to get up-to-date information on specific graduations.”

A list of unit social media pages can be found here.

Visiting Fort Leonard Wood

Visitors to Fort Leonard Wood aged 18 and older must present a state- or federally issued picture identification. Visitors operating a vehicle are required to have in their possession a current driver’s license, proof of current vehicle insurance and current vehicle registration.

“Security personnel here conduct 100-percent ID checks at all gates of entry,” said Don Rose, deputy director of the Directorate of Emergency Services. “Please also note that marijuana in any form is not authorized on the installation; nor are firearms. Fort Leonard Wood also does not recognize any state or federal concealed-carry permit.”

Civilian violators — to include contractors, military family members and retirees — can expect a mandatory appearance in Federal Magistrate Court, Rose said.

“Service members are referred to their chain of command for adjudication under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice,” Rose said.

Visitors who will be staying overnight at one of the installation’s lodging facilities will need to obtain a visitor pass at the main gate visitor center. Visitors requesting a pass will be subject to a criminal background check.

More visitor access information is available here. The visitor center can be reached at 573.596.0590.

Family Days to return

On- or off-post passes will be authorized by the unit commander, and unit-specific information and updates regarding family day activities will be made on individual unit Facebook pages.

“We look forward to welcoming the loved ones of our graduating Soldiers to Fort Leonard Wood again very soon,” Ball said. “It’s important to recognize the achievements of those who choose to defend our nation, and nothing makes that recognition come together better than having friends and family members around to witness it — in person.”

(Editor’s note: Maj. Gen. James Bonner, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, has scheduled a virtual town hall to begin at 8:30 a.m. May 5 on the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page.)