By J. Parker Roberts
1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs
On a mission to take the pulse of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Gen. John F. Campbell, vice chief of staff of the Army; Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III; and other Army representatives visited the post on Oct. 29.
The party’s visit, which included focus groups with post representatives and leadership luncheons, will help them assess the status of the Army’s Ready and Resilient campaign on post. They also discussed issues with the campaign’s implementation with Soldiers, Family members and civilian members of the Fort Riley workforce.
The Ready and Resilient Campaign integrates and synchronizes efforts and programs to improve the readiness and resilience of the Army Family. Ready and Resilient creates a holistic, collaborative and coherent enterprise to increase individual and unit readiness and resilience, according to information from the campaign’s website.
“The ‘Big Red One’ has always integrated programs that build resiliency in our Soldiers, Families and civilians,” Campbell said. “We’re going to take their best practices back with us to HQDA, share them with the force and ultimately increase the readiness of our Army.”
Greg Fedorchuk, a medical support assistant at Irwin Army Community Hospital, said the focus group led by Campbell was interesting.
“The general … gave a really good picture of what the Army’s focus is and what the Army’s agenda is,” Fedorchuk said. “The Army has realized that the problems have continued over a period of time, the causes of the problems have probably changed over that same period of time and they have to adjust the response to the issues.”
The medical support assistant said the issues he spoke of were personal problems dealing with the way Soldiers and civilians are making the most of their opportunities and lives.
“There are issues that are affecting people as they go through their Army career or within their personal lives,” Fedorchuk said, “and the Army is trying to help the Soldiers and civilians to … deal with those issues.”
Fedorchuk said the vice chief of staff received candid feedback from the focus group.
“He got some answers that may have surprised him a little bit,” the Army civilian said. “On a personal level, he seems to be very knowledgeable, very open. He’s obviously an excellent speaker.
“I think that he’s quite genuine about what he’s trying to do, and he’s got the good sense of what’s possible and what he will be focusing on. What he’ll be trying to do.”
Chandler also took time to speak with representatives from around post about resiliency.
“My expectation of you noncommissioned officers is that that’s about the second thing you do after you report back to your unit is that you get someplace where you can know what the Army’s Ready and Resilient campaign is and how it applies to you,” Chandler said, directing the noncommissioned officers present to the Army Ready and Resilient website, www.army.mil/readyandresilient. “People like the vice chief of staff of the Army and I, we can fly around, go see everybody and talk about being resilient, but if you don’t accept your responsibility as a noncommissioned officer to take care of your Soldiers and yourself, it doesn’t mean (anything).”
Chandler said the Army was significantly invested in getting feedback from Soldiers and civilians Army-wide.
“We’re spending literally thousands of dollars to get you engaged in this and give us some feedback,” he said. “It’s important. We’re literally spending billions of dollars on different things inside Ready and Resilient to help you help your Soldiers.”
However, Chandler warned, if noncommissioned officers do not “own” the program, that effort is wasted.
The sergeant major described the various branches of the Ready and Resilient campaign, including Soldier for Life, Strong Bonds and Embedded Behavioral Health.
“What I want you to do is understand from my perspective where and what these (branches) are at Fort Riley,” Chandler said.
“You’ve got to get the most, as we move forward as an Army, out of what you have available,” Chandler cautioned the focus group. “And we’re going to get smaller in the Army, so every single person is critical to your success.”
The focus group, made up exclusively of noncommissioned officers, provided plenty of opportunity for Soldiers to provide feedback to the Army’s top enlisted Soldier.
“We went over a lot of different subjects,” Staff Sgt. Mindy Shearin, 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., said of Chandler’s focus-group discussion. “We talked about primarily resiliency, and the Ready and Resilient Campaign.”
Shearin said she walked away from the focus group with a greater knowledge of resiliency tools available to Soldiers. She said the sergeant major of the Army also came away from the session with a greater understanding of resiliency efforts within the division.
“I think he got some feedback on how the different programs are working, how they’re being implemented in the units,” Shearin said, specifically mentioning the SHARP, or the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, program. “I think he probably got some good feedback. I know there’s always a time crunch whenever he comes down, but I think he gave the questions to get the feedback he wanted.”
Shearin said Chandler was approachable.
“He spoke to you and not at you,” Shearin said. “He took in what everyone was saying and actually listened and provided feedback. I think he was pretty down to earth.”