By Maj. Gen. Joseph Caravalho
Having been on active duty for 34 years, I have institutional knowledge of, and great personal experience in, this grand profession we call the United States Army. Having been the Fort Detrick Installation Commander for six months now, I also feel an increasing comfort in the various activities here on post.
By all measures, we are a very small post. I’ve run around post airfields that were larger than Fort Detrick! With the “smallness,” however, comes the benefits of proximity, familiarity and “camaraderie-ship.” On the other hand, without a large housing presence (barracks and separate family quarters), we run the risk of being a “commuter post.”
So the first thing I’d ask each and every one of the military beneficiaries--military and civilian, alike--is to take advantage of the wide array of Garrison-hosted functions to gather outside of work. I think you’ll find it well worth your time to socialize with Fort Detrick staff and Family.
Some recent personal examples include a community pancake breakfast a few weeks ago, hosted by Col. and Mrs. Steve Middlecamp. Laura Middlecamp did a wonderful job of getting everyone in our neighborhood out on a Saturday morning to meet over a relaxing meal. Steve was responsible for the heavy lifting, and he excelled in his supporting role. Another fine example was our recent Soldier Show, held in mid-June. Those singers and dancers--all fellow Soldiers--certainly made me very proud of our institution. There were many folks in attendance, but the gym was not overflowing. If you missed attending this year’s event, please do your best to make the next one. There have also been a number of Army Band and Old Guard performances in the local Frederick community, all of which have been spectacular. These are wonderful opportunities for those of us still serving to show up in uniform. We must give our civilian partners the chance to meet and talk to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Many of them want to thank the military, and we should give them the opportunity to do so.
Secondly, I’m finding I can do much better at understanding the challenges and issues facing our force. Over the past several years as a commanding general, I’ve made it a point to meet with many people to discuss issues facing them in their work, home and life areas. Within the past couple of years, I’ve started meeting with cohorts of female Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Soldiers. With this group, in particular, I’ve learned quite a bit, and we’ve been able to make positive changes because of feedback that I’ve received.
So there you have it. Let’s make this community even better. Let’s make this Army even better. Let’s make your work and home and living situation even better. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Engage others around you. Participate. It’s all about dignity and respect, isn’t it?
When we cross paths, stop me to say hello. I look forward to seeing you around post or around the community. Army Strong!