By Sgt. 1st Class Jon SoucyAugust 12, 2010
ST. LOUIS (Army News Service, Aug. 12, 2010) -- Change is constant, and Guardmembers should continue to prepare for changes in the future as budgetary constraints take effect, the Guard's senior enlisted advisor said yesterday.
"With the current budget and economy, it is likely that things will get much, much tighter before they get better," said Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, who works for the chief of the National Guard Bureau. "The services are just not going to be resourced as they have been in years past."
Jelinski-Hall told attendees here at the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States annual conference that the budget may be tighter in the coming years, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"While that may sound negative, the fact is behind every adversity lays the seeds of greater opportunity," she said. "Adversity provides us with the foresight to find new and innovative ways of doing business, streamlining processes and allowing us to think creatively."
Finding those new and innovative ways to meet the mission also requires planning and preparing for a changing environment.
"Be bold and courageous as you lead," Jelinski-Hall said. "When you plan for change, you meet it on your terms."
However, she noted, some of those shifts may be challenging, and it is rarely an easy process.
"Change, at times, can be hard," said Jelinski-Hall. "Losing planes at a wing, re-rolling a mission or adjusting to the (Army Force Generation Cycle) is tough on military members and the community."
Providing steadfast leadership is one way to make those transitions easier, she said.
"As we face tomorrow's challenges, I ask you to embrace change and look for opportunities to excel and lead our Soldiers and Airmen," said Jelinski-Hall.
Leading Soldiers and Airmen also means providing a support mechanism and ensuring those who need help -- especially mental health care -- get what they need.
"I can't over-emphasize enough the need for us as leaders to encourage our people to ask for help," said Jelinski-Hall. "Let them know it's OK for them to seek help."
Many may not have sought out the care they needed, because they feared it would end their career.
"I can't tell you how many times I roll through an organization or a state where someone will tell me that they didn't seek help, because they were afraid of that stigma," she said. "We cannot allow that to be an obstacle for our people to ask for help."
Asking for help, said Jelinski-Hall, is an act of strength.
"It takes a strong and courageous person to ask for help," she said, adding that leaders need to back up those actions.
"Leaders, by word and action, you must show that seeking help of any type is not, and I say again, it is not a career-ender," said Jelinski-Hall. "We must show our Soldiers and Airmen that is a true statement."
Leaders need personal and meaningful interaction with Soldiers and Airmen.
"We need to ask them (if they need help) and talk with them one-on-one and face-to-face," said Jelinski-Hall. "That way, we not only hear their words but see their faces, look into their eyes and understand them in order to provide them with the leadership they should expect and most certainly the leadership they deserve."
Leaders should also remind Guardmembers of the important role they play.
"Remind them that they are part of a team and a family," said Jelinski-Hall.
"All the modern technology in the world will not replace direct and meaningful contact with our people," she said. "We must ensure that we reach out to our newest and our most senior Guardmember."
Finally, she said Guardmembers add value to everything they do.
"The point is this," said Jelinski-Hall. "America relies on our Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen. During times of joy or crisis ... you are there. You are the epitome of commitment, selfless-service, self-sacrifice and dedication to duty."
Maintaining that, she said, means Guardmembers must take care of one another while preparing for change.
"Take care of each other," she said. "Take care of your families. Use the resources available to you and if needed ask someone for help."
(Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy writes for the National Guard Bureau)