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Commanding general leads reenlistment of 25 Soldiers

Major General JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, lead a reenlistment ceremony Oct. 1 of 25 Soldiers as they hovered above the grounds of The Sabalauski Air Assault School in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

McGee was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Veronica Knapp, division senior enlisted adviser.

“The presence of the highest level of leadership in the division shows how committed they are to the People First Initiative,” said Sgt. Maj. William P. Bastian Jr., 101st Abn. Div. command career counselor. “Mass reenlistments are high-visibility, generate positivity and esprit de corps. When Soldiers have an opportunity to take the oath with their brothers and sisters in arms, it is an opportunity they will likely never forget.”

The oath of reenlistment is a solemn promise to support and defend the Constitution, Bastian said.

“Soldiers are committing to something bigger than themselves and a way of life,” he said. “Without the oath, there is no reenlistment.”

For most citizens, it is reassuring to know that Soldiers and civilians sacrifice so much personally to take up the mantle to protect the homeland.

“This is like a dream for me,” said Cpl. Christina Lloyd, a Texas native and nodal network systems operator-maintainer assigned to 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div. “I wanted to join the Army to do something honorable. My mom always wanted to join the Army, but she passed away. It made me think that joining the Army was something I did for the both of us.”

As a nodal network systems operator-maintainer Lloyd is responsible for telecommunication between assets in the Army and chose to reenlist to continue her service to the nation.

“To see them reenlist is a tremendous honor,” Bastian said. “Knowing we are able to provide these Soldiers with an opportunity to continue their service and an out of the ordinary re-enlistment experience brings me great pride.”

As an Army career counselor, Bastian strives to meet the Army’s end strength. It is the career counselor’s responsibility to retain Soldiers in the Army and provide them with opportunities that will progress their Army careers.

“For those of you thinking of getting out of the Army if it’s not for you great, but if it is for you then that’s greater,” Lloyd said. “Even if you don’t feel like you’re actually doing anything right now, you’re doing a good thing.”

ACS-FAP aims to educate community during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Fort Campbell’s Army Community Service-Family Advocacy Program is ramping up its outreach efforts in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with several events scheduled to promote healthy relationships and share resources available on post.

ACS-FAP uses those resources to help Soldiers and Families throughout the year, and by educating the public they hope to empower them to identify and disengage from abusive situations in their own lives.

“We try to show the community the indicators of domestic violence, there can be a number of different indicators, whether it’s mental abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse or physical abuse,” said William Corlew, victim advocate, ACS-FAP.

Warning signs of domestic violence can take on many forms, such as concealed injuries, isolation from friends and Family or restricted access to money and transportation.

“One of the things we see often is disputes over property – whose home is it, whose car is it, whose ID card is it – and the withholding of those things,” Corlew said. “Especially if it’s a one-income Family and the Soldier is the one who is bringing in the income, they may feel that they have all the power and the spouse doesn’t.”

Marriage is a partnership, it is not just one person over the household, he said.

Whatever the situation, recognizing the signs of abuse is important. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner, and the most severe cases can lead to serious injury, death or suicidal behavior.

Corlew said most on-post cases involve Soldiers or Families ages 18-24, similar to many civilian communities. Those in immediate danger should call 911, but the installation offers several services to support victims.

“As far as resources on Fort Campbell, ACS-FAP is a great starting point,” said Kristin Heimpel, victim advocate, ACS-FAP. “We run a 24-hour victim advocacy hotline, so they have contact with somebody whenever they need access, and each of us rotates around to make sure they have 24/7 access to a victim advocate.”

Along with victim advocacy services, ACS-FAP offers training and education aimed at preventing domestic violence before it begins. Options include couples’ counseling, conflict resolution, the five love languages and more.

“Families also have access to chaplain services, clinical services through Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and legal services through the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate’s client services division,” Heimpel said. “While we all do something different, these are the main resources that clients usually reach out to.”

By working to curb domestic violence, each of those organizations helps maintain Soldier and Family readiness. Each Family’s success directly impacts Total Army readiness.

“Fort Campbell‘s response to domestic violence is shaped through a coordinated military and civilian community response,” said Jayme Stalder, program manager, ACS-FAP. “ACS Family Advocacy, BACH Family Advocacy, our provost marshal’s office and our staff judge advocate legal service program all work in support of rendering services to individuals affected by domestic violence.”

Research on Army Family readiness, conducted by the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army’s Research Facilitation Laboratory, under the Army Analytics Group, identified 16 key indicators of Family readiness. The research also found an interconnection between the different indicators.

Those indicators are physical health, mental health, social support, spouses’ functioning, marital quality, severe Family and marital distress, parenting and Family functioning, military life experiences, service members deployment experience, spouses’ experiences during deployment, service members’ reintegration experiences, spouses’ reintegration experiences, children’s experiences during parental deployment and reintegration experiences, children’s functioning, finances and spouse employment, accessibility to military services.

For Army leaders, this means an increased focus on connecting the Families to the services available and ensuring spouses and children take advantage of the network community available to them.

Neighbors and bystanders also can contribute if they suspect someone is the victim of domestic violence, but Heimpel said it’s important to use caution.

“Domestic violence is a very dangerous situation, and the most dangerous time in the relationship is when the victim decides to leave,” she said. “Being careful about pushing a response before the victim is ready is important because that could potentially cause more danger, but I don’t want to deter people from wanting to report it. Especially if there are children involved.”

Heimpel said the safest bet is to share resources with someone who may be in an abusive relationship, and the community can further show support for victims through ACS-FAP’s Virtual Walk this month.

The event is a COVID-19 safe alternative to the program’s in-person challenge walk, and hopes are to see the community log a combined 1,101,101 steps throughout October. Participants can log their steps by emailing fap.dvam@gmail.com or posting in ACS-FAP’s public Facebook group.

Soldiers and Families also can learn more about identifying and preventing domestic violence during a drive-thru community outreach event 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Woodlands Community.

“We’ll be out there to provide and inform the community of the services we offer in support of starting that conversation,” Heimpel said. “Either people are going to start asking questions about who we are and what we do, or they’re going to call us and open that door to learn about a service they may not have known about.”

Heimpel said ACS-FAP’s goal is to spend as much time as possible within the community, which involves regular visits to the Soldier Support Center and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. This month, the community can expect to see them at the Soldier Support Center 9-11 a.m. Oct. 13, and at the Exchange 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 15.

To close out DVAM, ACS-FAP will host an outreach drive-thru 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 29 at 1501 William C. Lee Road, handing out gift bags and informational material to passersby.

“We did our first one last week, and it was really cool,” Heimpel said. “We had our big tents out, we had people in unicorn and koala bear costumes and pretty much everyone who drove past this way saw we were there. All they had to do was pull their car in, and they got bags, stuff and information and they could go on about their business.”

Through their ongoing outreach efforts, ACS-FAP aims to help the community understand what they do to build up healthy Families.

“We’re trying to break down the stigma of the Family Advocacy Program having this negative connotation to it,” Heimpel said. “I think a lot of people feel as though the FAP is punitive, yet we have difficult topics we discuss. People are talking about relationships and domestic violence, and we want people to open that conversation and be comfortable talking about issues within the Family. But it is still considered taboo, so we want to do whatever we can to make it friendly, welcoming and inviting and just try to tear down those walls and barriers.”

Rakkasans take on JRTC: 1-33rd Cav. Regt. works with role players for best training experience

FORT POLK, La. – Rakkasans recently encountered a group of notionally displaced civilians as they conducted reconnaissance during their rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center.

Soldiers assigned to A Company, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), came across the group of role players during their training. The entire brigade, some 4,000 Soldiers, are participating in the JRTC rotation.

According to the scenario, the notionally displaced civilians were traveling for at least five days with limited food and water supply. They also were sleep deprived. When the civilians arrived in the Soldiers’ footprint, they had been resorting to drinking creek water and eating raw meat from wild rabbits to sustain themselves. They also did not have supplies to build a fire. In response, the Soldiers provided the civilians with clean water and rations to sustain them until they were evacuated to a safer location.

Sergeant First Class Scott Johnson, platoon sergeant of A Co., 1-33rd Cav. Regt., led operations to the aid of the displaced civilians.

“We took time and gave adequate effort to understand the situation that they might’ve been in and figuring out the best way to talk to them without being too headstrong or seeming aggressive,” Johnson said.

Johnson also coordinated the safe evacuation of every civilian, calling in a convoy to escort them to their next destination, and calming their nerves as they heard nearby gunfire.

“Just simply sitting them down and assessing their needs, such as clean water because some of them had bad water, allowed us to build some cohesion and trust with the civilian population,” he said.

JRTC focuses on improving unit readiness by providing realistic, stressful, joint and combined arms training. The last few weeks of continuous training has both strengthened their executions of battle tactics and tested their mettle as Soldiers on the battlefield, Johnson said.

“The training is definitely paying off,” he said. “I have had a lot of experience with key leader engagements, and I know it is not necessarily what we are doing here at JRTC, but we had our security set up to help them feel protected. We got some good time in with the civilian population to not only understand them more but understand more about the area in general.”

As training ramps up, the Soldiers of 1-33rd Cav. Regt. continue to push forward and challenge their resilience to further improve on how they operate as a cavalry unit while interacting with a civilian element, no matter what the situation may be, Johnson said.

“Learning how to talk and de-escalate a situation in a harsh environment and being able to make a civilian feel like we’re right there with them is the goal,” he said.