It’s extraordinary to see our military community respond and adapt to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our soldiers, civilian employees, contractors, family members, retirees and veterans have all come together to support each other and our extended community during this time of crisis. It takes a team working collectively in unison and around the clock to solve problems. Our results have clearly demonstrated that tackling problems in their infancy early and hard generates success.
While the conditions have changed the way we do business, we have not been relieved of our mission and responsibilities. We remain open but operating differently. Many people are now working from home and classes are given virtually. Many of our training and operations have also shifted online. Where we cannot leverage technology, we are taking new prudent measures. By continually learning and adapting our processes, we aim to reduce risk at every level.
In some cases, we have suspended some of our services. These are in line with national, state and local orders. In other cases, we have adjusted services to better meet needs while incorporating safety protocols. The pharmacy at the Munson Army Health Center established a drive-through prescription pick-up system and our exchange and commissary have incorporated curbside pick-up for patrons. Soldiers have also volunteered to support the commissary. Unselfishly, they have committed all received tips to the chaplains for cash-card distribution to those most in need.
Masks and face coverings are being made by our military spouses who are part of Leavenworth Mask Makers, Girl Scouts and even inmates who are part of a vocational program run by the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. These are getting distributed to our first responders and inmate-made masks are being sold at USDB Sales Store.
The Mission Command Training Program is staffed with functional experts who normally travel across the world to train large Army formations. It has now deployed to multiple locations across America supporting U.S. Army North in its nationwide military response to the pandemic.
Every summer, Fort Leavenworth is challenged with more than 1,000 families departing and an equal number coming in. This year, we continue that mission, but under the added strain of additional COVID-19 requirements. The entire team is working every day to resolve individual issues as families travel to and from nearly 80 different locations around the world.
The military community on and around Fort Leavenworth has shown a remarkable ability to Survive to Thrive at Home. They have completed a myriad of challenges designed for families to compete, learn, grow and be well while practicing new safety measures. These include mask-making, sidewalk art, scavenger hunts and fitness challenges. We’re also encouraging support to our local business community with strong demand for food and other essential products and services.
Communication and keeping our community informed remains my No. 1 priority and the cornerstone of our efforts for both COVID-19 response and summer transition. The garrison website and phone app are continuously updated to provide families with relevant information and links. We also host regularly scheduled live Facebook town hall three times a week.
Since 1827, Fort Leavenworth has met our nation’s calling to serve, protect and defend. From our youngest to our oldest, we are now more diverse than ever before but our community is now answering that same calling and performing admirably. Our consistency and unwavering commitment to each other has never faltered and remains as strong as ever before. That’s why we will continue to be known as “The Best Hometown in the Army.”
Col. Harry Hung is the Fort Leavenworth garrison commander.