Fort Hood’s senior command team addressed the Great Place’s community with a second virtual town hall event streamed live on the installation’s main Facebook page Tuesday morning.
III Corps and Fort Hood Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Nash, Task Force Phantom senior enlisted advisor, for the hour-long live video event, which drew more than 130 questions and more than 200 comments from viewers during the hour.
Efflandt opened the event, discussing the post’s efforts to care for its troops and their families, while continuing to maintain readiness as the country deals with the coronavirus.
“While we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, (we) are still equipped to prepare and serve whenever and wherever needed, while taking care of our families and communities,” the general said. “This condition is illustrated by the deployment of the 9th Hospital Command last week to help response efforts in New York City.”
The general noted Department of Defense-directed protective measures employed on the installation since his first virtual town hall March 19.
“Here at Fort Hood, we have maximized telework and sent home a large part of our unit formations with the goal of minimizing social interactions,” Efflandt said. “Our units need to be able to deploy at any time and critical to our ability to do that is the health of each Soldier. To that end, we limit our activities to mission and mission essential activities. Soldiers and DA civilians will rotate between mission, mission essential support, telework and health leave on a case-by-case basis.”
Efflandt signed a “Shelter in Place” order Friday, which enacted a curfew for troops on the installation from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.; prohibited troops from receiving visitors in their residences and limited travel for troops to a 40-mile radius of the installation. Civilian family members were urged in the order to abide by these restrictions.
“We are modifying or limiting activities and services on the installation as required in order to promote the health of our entire community,” the general said in concluding his opening remarks. “The commissaries and gas stations remain open, as do other essential services. Our social media pages are staying updated to reflect the changes, and there’s also a website that you can go to find out the status of particular services on post.”
Efflandt then began taking questions from the community. Between Efflandt and Nash, the pair fielded 40 questions during the hour-long video stream, not shying away from difficult topics.
“That was our intent walking into this — let’s answer the hard questions … and try to deliver acceptable answers for those,” Nash said. “If one person has one, in a community as big as ours, there are probably hundreds who have the same hard question. We didn’t want to avoid answering them, we wanted to give these concerned family members some relief with some sort of answer.”
Questions covered a variety of on-post services, the 60-day stop-movement order on permanent change of station moves and the potential of shutting down the installation altogether as the pandemic progresses.
Nash addressed the potential for a complete shutdown first.
“No,” he said. “We may limit some traffic in and out of the installation. We may close some gates.”
“I don’t foresee that in the near future, either,” Efflandt added.
The complete live-streamed video event can be viewed at www.facebook.com/forthood.
“What I found most gratifying from the questions at the town hall meeting was how the community was helping themselves solve problems,” Efflandt said afterward. “Some people amplified the question with context so they could get a more appropriate answer, other people were explaining the answer in terms they could relate to, which is a huge win, and in some cases, people were offering to be part of the solution. Those three aspects is why I just love Central Texas.”
The general said having this forum for two-way communication is very beneficial for him, and will be equally beneficial for Fort Hood command teams at all levels.
“I hope they (leaders) take away from this a sense of where the community is at, both on post and off-post, in uniform and out,” Efflandt said. “They can take that sense of direction and further refine it and tailor it for their smaller community.”
In his closing remarks from the live broadcast, the general reminded the community of the seriousness of the pandemic and the Army’s commitment to win this fight against an invisible enemy.
“I want you to know the corps staff is working and has been since this situation began. We continue to monitor the spread of the virus closely, while working with our community partners,” he said. “A very deliberate and informed decision-making process among the team will determine when and how we transition back to business as usual.
“I would also like to remind you, if you think you may have the symptoms of coronavirus, the respiratory drive-through at CRDAMC is open so you can be screened. The hospital is also still operating the hotline at 254-553-6612,” he added. “Wash your hands, practice social distancing and we are in this together as the Fort Hood community.”