In a livestreamed workforce engagement session, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden leaders encouraged Soldiers, civilians and local national employees to focus on all aspects of health and wellness Feb. 26, 2021.
Topics covered in the “People First” session included the COVID-19 vaccine, workforce development programs, physical fitness and removing the stigma for receiving emotional health counseling.
Col. Mario Washington, garrison commander, addressed balance and harmony for the workforce. “I believe in harmony because people’s lives are different; they are in different places in their life,” he said. “You have to find your harmony and wellness.”
COVID-19 mitigation measures and the vaccine were Washington’s first set of talking points to his audience of almost 200. “The vaccine is important for the way forward for us to protect our force and our families,” he said. “I encourage you to do your research so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you want to take the vaccine.”
When asked about the availability of the vaccine, he responded, “The supply chain is really what is driving the process for getting the vaccine.” He said, “The one thing I can tell you for sure is when we get the doses, we’ve giving them out.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Truchon and Scott Mowry, deputy to the garrison commander, also addressed the workforce, adding details and perspective to Washington’s remarks.
Washington’s second segment addressed workforce development. “Workforce development is one of our highest priorities in the garrison,” he said. “We have multiple initiatives that we’ve laid out in our strategic plan and addresses our garrison staff at all echelons.”
“We believe it is an area that has been neglected in the past and we intend to put more emphasis on it,” he said. “It’s important that we put people in a position to be successful.” A workforce development chief has been hired to focus on formal and informal initiatives for civilians and local national employees. Some of those programs are already being implemented, including expanded meeting participation and focus groups.
Washington concluded the online meeting by addressing physical and emotional wellness resources at the garrison. “The Army just published an update to the civilian wellness policy,” he said. “Essentially, they have eliminated the one-time six month opportunity for civilians to do physical fitness and health activities on the clock. We are waiting for implementation guidance from IMCOM before we can start this process in the garrison.”
“Once we have this program finalized, I encourage everyone to take part in their self-wellness and fitness to the best of their ability,” he said.
Washington went on to remind the workforce, “Mental fitness is just as important.” He aligned mental health initiatives as important as spiritual and financial health resources that are readily available through the garrison. “We need to make sure that there’s no longer a stigma,” he said, for seeking mental health counseling.
Washington said, “We have to foster an environment that is predicated on trust and respect.” He emphasized that the offices of Equal Opportunity (EO), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) are available to all garrison employees, Soldiers, civilians and local nationals, if they need help navigating workplace difficulties.
In his closing remarks, Washington addressed audience questions including the opening of fitness facilities to families and local nationals. “We’re just staying in line with the host nation,” he said.
To conclude, he said, “It is an absolute honor to work with each of you every day. I thank you for what you do.”