COVID town hall convenes in person for first time

By Laura LeveringJune 24, 2021

1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey addresses a virtual audience during the installation’s COVID Response Town Hall for his last time as the Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general. Hersey will go on to serve as the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office ) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Shaw Pick briefs the community on updates to services on the installation during the monthly COVID-19 Response Town Hall held June 17. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

The U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held its monthly COVID Response Town Hall on June 17. It was the first time leadership was able to host the forum in person in more than a year.

“Being vaccinated has allowed us to do that, so this is a first gathering we’ve had since about April of last year, so I’m very happy to have everyone back together,” said Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general.

Since the last town hall, which was held on May 20, Hersey rescinded General Order No. 1, resulting in a number of changes across the installation with regards to COVID safety measures.

“Now we have a directive through the garrison that is consistent with the guidance that came out from the Department of Defense, which says if you are fully vaccinated, you are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors at DoD facilities, with the exception of a couple of places,” he said, with the exception being medical facilities.

Providing an update on services across the installation, Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Shaw Pick, said the installation is “pretty much open,” but with limitations. The good news, he said, is that the limitations are not related to the pandemic, which had forced services to close in the past. Instead, they are due to limited manpower.

“Whether it’s flex, part-time, or full-time, we’ve got a whole lot of options available … the faster I can get people onboard, the faster I can do things like restart group fitness classes,” Pick said. “If you want to work on Fort Gordon in either MWR or Child and Youth Services, or really any capacity, go to USA Jobs’ website, and search for Fort Gordon, and apply.”

In addition to reopening services, Fort Gordon has entered an agreement with DoorDash to increase food delivery options on the installation.

“We’re trying to expand on what was an existing delivery menu of options from the MWR food vendors; now we’ve included all the AAFES food vendors,” he explained.

Speaking on behalf of Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Col. Brandon Pretlow, EAMC deputy commanding officer, said that several of the center’s community health programs have been restored after being forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic. Added to the list of programs is a Family Wellness Clinic, which will focus primarily on adolescent care, diabetes care and education, cervical cancer screenings, and anti-depressant management.

He also stressed that the hospital is still offering Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations to eligible beneficiaries, including those 12 and older. Appointments to receive the vaccine can be scheduled online

Col. Edward Kendall, 15th Signal Brigade commander, was eager to share good news with the community concerning graduation and leave. Effective June 21, family and friends are permitted to attend graduation ceremonies, and Soldiers will be permitted to take leave prior to reporting to their first unit of assignment.

“We’re still going to execute protection measures because still our No. 1 goal is protecting the force, but this is a great opportunity for all of us and something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time – and the time is now,” Kendall said.

Furthermore, Soldiers in training who are fully vaccinated (both doses plus 14 days) may receive permission from their unit to have visitors.

“For more details, the Soldiers should reach out to their organization to see the requirements to make sure they’ve completed all the minimal requirements to allow that visitation, and then they can coordinate that for visitation on post,” Kendall explained.

In closing, Hersey thanked everyone for participating in the town hall, and more importantly, for assisting with the battle against COVID-19.

“Though we’re not completely out of the challenging environment, we are in a much, much better place because of the work of our first responders, the work of our medical professionals, and the citizenry doing the right thing and protecting themselves with masks and social distancing,” Hersey said.

For footage of the town hall, visit the Fort Gordon Facebook page.