Commander's Message
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

This is my final Commander's Corner column for 2010. I'm excited about the holiday season - not only for Christmas, but for New Years, too.

Each new year feels like a fresh start - a chance for introspection and a great time to decide to make changes.

Do you make New Year's resolutions' Many individuals don't, either thinking they're a waste of time or for fear of failure when the resolutions fade away.

If you think resolutions are only for individuals who want to lose weight or quit smoking, I invite you to reconsider.

A resolution gives us all something we can use - incentive to improve ourselves. Of course, we already have the reasons for change - better health, better financial welfare, more security, improving relationships - but the new year gives us a timeframe when we're expected to do some inner searching and to make a commitment to ourselves to be better.

While weight loss and smoking cessation are among the most popular resolutions, other oaths can be just as important, and as difficult to sustain.

For example, many people vow to reduce their debt. Individuals who work on reducing their debt on their own typically use one of two approaches: either the snowball method (making extra payments on the debt with the lowest outstanding balance while making minimum payments on the others, and moving to the next lowest balance when one is paid off) or the debt avalanche (using the same ideology as the snowball method, but paying extra on the debt with the highest interest rate, working your way down to the lowest-rated debt).

It's often difficult to make a plan on your own. Fortunately, Army Community Service (ACS) on Fort McPherson offers one-on-one assistance to help you corral your debt and work toward a more secure financial future. If you would like to learn more, call Janel S. Finley, the ACS financial program manager, at 464-2498.

Another common resolution is to get better organized. This is a wonderful goal that can lead to less stress and more productivity, both at work and at home. By making a few simple changes - from cleaning off your desk to making detailed lists - you can greatly improve your quality of life. Being organized helps you focus on your goals, make a plan for how to accomplish them, decide what resources you need and keep you involved in the process. It also saves you time otherwise spent looking for lost items or reacting at the last minute. Fortunately, organization can be free, easy and, with repetition, habit forming.

You may decide to improve yourself through returning to college or by learning something new. How exciting! With the closure looming, returning to college can mean more employment options, either in your current field of work or in something new. Whether you're considering formal education or something more casual, such as learning to play a musical instrument, exercising the mind helps it to work better and to see more solutions.

By exploring new interests and continuing to learn, you open your life to so many novel experiences. Others of you may resolve to help improve the lives of others through volunteerism.

I applaud you for your selflessness! Volunteering can require as little as an hour a week mentoring at a local school or as much as helping to build a home - no unselfish act is too big or too small. For the most satisfaction, think about what interests you or what special talents you have to offer and find a volunteer opportunity that fits those qualities and your time constraints. A resolution near and dear to many hearts this year will be to find a better job - or maybe just to find any job.

As we've discussed in this column, in this newspaper, through town hall meetings and in many other forums, there are several resources being offered on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem to help you reach this goal.

You can help us to help you by continuing to stay informed, taking the actions you need to be as marketable as possible, being persistent, being patient and asking questions. Also, while we're looking on your behalf for DoD jobs through the Priority Placement Program, help yourself by searching for jobs - federal, state, non-governmental or whatever else you're interested in - outside of that purview.

Your employment is too important for you to not take an active interest in. Possibly the most heartfelt resolution is to enjoy more quality time with Family and friends. As has been said a million times, few people spend their dying moments wishing they'd spent more time at work; however, far too many wish they'd spent more quality time with loved ones.

Don't build regrets - build relationships. Your loved ones are the oil that keep all the other working parts of your life running smoothly, and can make the bumps in the road that much easier to maneuver. Find the time, find common interests, and enjoy the little things that count so much.

Finally, remember most resolutions are long-term plans. There will be bumps along the way, but the key is to stay focused and to not let setbacks totally derail the plan. After all, the whole concept of resolutions is based on enhancing your quality of life. Resolve to make yourself a priority. Thank you all for a wonderful year of dedication and service. Take the time to enjoy your Family and friends this holiday season, and return from the holidays safe and ready to hit the ground running as we prepare for the final leg of this journey to closure.

Happy holidays!