Quality of life directly impacts readiness, warfighting

By Stefan AlfordOctober 13, 2023

Quality of life directly impacts readiness, warfighting
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Army leaders emphasize that taking care of people has a direct correlation to Army readiness at a contemporary military forum during the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual symposium, Oct. 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: William King) VIEW ORIGINAL
Quality of life directly impacts readiness, warfighting
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Gen. Charles Hamilton, Army Materiel Command commanding general, kicks off a contemporary military forum on Delivering Ready Combat Formations: Taking Care of People at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual symposium, Oct. 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: William King) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – The Army’s senior sustainer emphasized the direct correlation between quality of life and readiness at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition here Oct. 11.

“Delivering ready combat formations means getting our Soldiers and what they need to the fight – anywhere in the world – and sustaining them there,” said Gen. Charles Hamilton, commanding general of Army Materiel Command. “Sustainment is about warfighting, period. And that also means that taking care of people … is about warfighting.”

These aren’t afterthoughts, Hamilton stressed; they are the foundation of the Army’s ability to fight and win the nation’s wars.

“Improving housing conditions and transforming the military health system … is about warfighting. Providing quality and affordable childcare programs and improving spouse employment … is about warfighting. Continuing to improve the PCS process … is about warfighting,” he said.

Those quality-of-life programs and services were the focus of a contemporary military forum panel discussion on “Delivering Ready Combat Power: Taking Care of People.” The main take-away: Army leaders at all levels want real-time Soldier and Family feedback to know and understand quality-of-life issues so they can find solutions.

“No Soldier or family should ever feel unheard,” said Lt. Gen. Omar Jones, commanding general of Installation Management Command, who served as a panelist. “If Soldiers or Army Families are living in conditions they feel are not safe, not clean or not in good condition, they need to tell their chain of command. As long as even one family is living in an unacceptable home, then we have work to do.”

IMCOM actively encourages feedback to make improvements, whether on family and unaccompanied housing, or programs and services, such as childcare, spouse employment, and PCS-related issues, Jones added.

Maj. Gen. James Isenhower, commanding general of 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, Texas, and his wife, Sherrill, also served as panelists, bringing the Senior Commander and Army family perspective to the discussion.

“Home is where the Army sends you,” said Sherrill. “The geography may change, but the services and facilities don’t. They are tailored to specific locations, but they provide a consistent experience to give a continuing sense of community.”

She explained that there’s a familiarity across installations with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation services, such as housing offices, fitness centers, and Child and Youth Services programs that offer predictability and make Soldiers and Families feel at home.

“You may not yet know when you arrive where the commissary is, but you know there is one,” she said.

Spouses and Soldiers are the best source of truth on an installation, added Isenhower, and leaders need their feedback and input to identify needs and trends.

“I’m part of the problem,” he joked. “I’m old and gray haired. The value from our younger people to resolve issues quickly and the input from the lower levels helps us improve quality of life across every aspect.”

Increased quality of life is directly tied to increased Army readiness and is critical to upholding the Army’s commitment to care for Soldiers, Army civilians and families, said Hamilton. It’s a wide-reaching effort that spans more than 80 Army installations worldwide to enable sustainment and readiness.

“For our Soldiers with families, we have nearly 100,000 homes on our installations, ranging from apartments to townhouses to single-family homes with multiple bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, and large living spaces,” he said, with more than 86,000 privatized, and over 13,000 owned and leased by the Army.

“More than 19,000 of the privatized homes will be replaced or renovated by 2026, and more than 2,000 of the Army-owned homes will be replaced or renovated by 2028,” Hamilton shared. “So, in just five years more than one-fifth of our entire inventory of housing will be essentially brand new.”

Additionally, more than 6,700 barracks buildings at Army installations worldwide have enough space for 480,000 individual, unaccompanied Soldiers. Hamilton noted the service is increasing investments on renovations and construction to continue improvements across the barracks portfolio.

“Fundamentally, delivering ready combat formations means that we must be committed to improving the quality of housing and amenities to better support the needs and lifestyles of our Soldiers and their families,” he said.

The Army has a team-of-teams approach to taking care of people and upholding the commitment to the Soldiers and Families of the world’s most lethal ground force, Hamilton said in closing.

“They deserve our best,” he said. “They deserve to work and live in safe and healthy environments, and they deserve access to quality programs and services that support readiness and resilience. They deserve it … and it will be delivered.”