FORT SILL, Oklahoma (May 19, 2021) -- Reiterating that facemasks are still required on post, COVID vaccinating continues, and basic combat training (BCT) graduations reopen this week, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill Commanding General Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper provided community updates during a virtual town hall meeting May 18, from McNair Hall.
In his welcome, FCoE and Fort Sill Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Burnley said good ideas can come from anyone, and they become great ideas when they are shared.
Fort Sill lowered its Health Protection Condition (HPCON) from Bravo (moderate increased community transmission) to HPCON Alpha (limited community transmission) May 19, Kamper said. With that change there will be a slight increase in the capacity of post child development centers, and opening up of summer youth-activities.
Following DoD guidelines, facemasks continue to be required in post public spaces, i.e., commissary, PX, clinics, etc., Kamper said.
Commanders and other leaders can make the call if facemasks are required in their office spaces, classrooms, and work areas where there is low-risk of transmission, i.e., every Soldier or civilian employee has been fully vaccinated, the general said. “I am comfortable that our commanders and leaders are empowered to assess that risk.”
Forty-one percent of the permanent party Soldiers here have been vaccinated, Kamper said. “That’s great. Our goal is to get to 60 percent by Memorial Day (May 31), and 75 percent by Independence Day. Help us get there.”
There is great logic in getting the voluntary vaccination, however, no one will be COVID shot-shamed into getting one, Kamper said.
The shot may protect you, and may keep you from passing on COVID, Kamper said. Once COVID gets into the BCT environment, it spreads quickly, which leads to quarantines and possibly delayed training,
Vaccinations continue to be offered to trainees, as well as service members, family members, TRICARE beneficiaries, DA civilians and contractors at the Reynolds Army Health Clinic. Walk-ins are welcome weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., as well as by appointment (call 833-286-3732), said RAHC Command Sgt. Maj. José Cotto.
In addition to open BCT graduations, advanced individual training, or AIT, graduations will reopen beginning June 1, Kamper said. For the first month of trainee graduations, graduates are required to wear facemasks, and family members are asked to wear masks at the ceremony.
“We’re not sure how many families are vaccinated, so facemasks are a mitigating measure,” Kamper said.
If the weather is bad, the BCT graduation will be moved from Polo Field to the Cache Creek Chapel. The battery will be split in two with different ceremonies to allow guests to see their Soldiers graduate, with a live stream for any overflow, Kamper said.
There are a variety of counseling services available to trainees including Military Family Life, behavioral health, and more, said Burnley answering a posted question.
Anyone who has access to Fort Sill is eligible to use its two recreational vehicle facilities, said Col. Rhett Taylor, garrison commander.
There isn’t a process for a BCT trainee or AIT Soldier on a contract to change their selected military occupational specialty (MOS) here, Burnley said.
It’s a good idea for Soldiers to have their COVID vaccination record available, said Lt. Col. Reneé Zmijski, RAHC deputy commander for Administration. She keeps hers at her desk.
Fort Sill Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Blackwell said Range Operations and Directorate of Public Works staff monitor the low water crossings and close them appropriately. Because of the recent rains four low-water crossings are currently closed.
In closing, Kamper, Burnley, and Taylor thanked all the volunteer Soldiers, including Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers, Marines, and Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation staff and volunteers who helped make the Armed Forces Day concert a success.
The next virtual BCT and AIT town hall meeting will be May 27, at 11 a.m. CST. Sill Facts will be June 1, at 6 p.m. The next virtual FCoE town hall is June 15, at 6 p.m.