New SMA says soldiers are doing well despite stresses

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Despite the stress on soldiers after nearly a decade at war, the Army is doing well, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said April 22 during the Association of the United States Army Institute for Land Warfare Installations Symposium and Exposition in San Antonio.

Chandler spoke on soldier issues and the state of the Army at the symposium.

He acknowledged the problems facing the Army as it begins another decade engaged in war, but noted that last year the Army met its recruitment and retention goals.

"You all are a large part of that," he said, addressing the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) workforce and Department of the Army civilians. "IMCOM is a flexible, adaptable organization that provides what our Army asks for. Thank you for what you do to make soldiers’ and families’ lives seamless."

Chandler focused on the biggest issues facing the Army, including the recent repeal of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy and mental health problems facing soldiers returning from war.

He condemned the plague of sexual harassment and assault within Army ranks.

"It is against Army core values and the Warrior Ethos to allow people to sexually harass and sexually assault each other," he said.

Adding, "It is not okay. I expect my battle buddies to tell me if I’m way out in left field. That is the attitude we need to incorporate."

Chandler also disclosed that he has benefited from behavioral health counseling for the past two years and that the former Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. selected him as sergeant major of the Army with full knowledge of that fact.

He encouraged other Army leaders to also "walk the talk" and help dispel the stigma against mental health counseling.

Chandler also called on leaders to look out for their subordinates and said leadership was the key to solving the suicide problem.

"The young men and women we’ve asked to serve are thirsty for your leadership," he said. "We need to find those 10 minutes to make a difference in that person’s life. We’ve got to go the extra mile to make sure they’re okay."

Chandler charted the way ahead and acknowledged that the Army is "tired, but not broken."

He said, "We’ve got a great Army family, all committed to excellence."

Adding, "There are lots of challenges ahead, but we know the business at hand and what our country expects of us. We are an Army of action and we are going to take charge."

(Editor’s note: This article is based on a story by Shayna E. Brouker, IMCOM.)