Grinston visits Fort Leonard Wood for first time as Sergeant Major of the Army
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston visited Fort Leonard Wood Monday and Tuesday to engage with leaders and Soldiers on People First priorities and other quality-of-life initiatives.
This was Grinston’s first visit to Fort Leonard Wood since becoming SMA in June 2019.
One of his first stops was an engagement with noncommissioned officers attending the NCO Academy here. Grinston spoke on the Exceptional Family Member Program. He said the online tool EFMP & Me — provided by the Department of Defense’s Office of Special Needs and Military OneSource — assists military families who have family members with special needs. The resource can help Soldiers “navigate their career while still caring for their family,” he said.
After an early morning physical fitness event with trainees and cadre assigned to Company D, 35th Engineer Battalion, Grinston presented an SMA coin to one of Delta Company’s drill sergeants, Staff Sgt. Richard Judd, who reenlisted later that day.
“Growing up, I never had much of a family, but the military gave me the chance to have that experience while working as a team,” said Judd, who’s been enlisted nine years and plans on making the Army a career. “Getting a coin from the top enlisted Soldier means a lot. You don’t see that every day — it makes me feel appreciated.”
One of Grinston’s initiatives as SMA was the name change from Soldier For Life-Transition Assistance Program to simply just Transition Assistance Program, and he visited the TAP office Tuesday to speak with both those helping Soldiers transition as well as transitioning Soldiers, who were attending a virtual TAP briefing.
“I was the one who asked for the name change,” Grinston said. “It shouldn’t be Soldier For Life-Transition Assistance Program. It should be, ‘I’m going to transition, but I’m always a Soldier for life.’ If you join the Army, you’re eventually leaving. So, how people transition is hugely important.”
The SMA serves as the Army chief of staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force. To that end, Grinston also made time to visit the barracks of single Soldiers as well as attend the 3rd Chemical Brigade’s newly enhanced Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention training. The added scenarios and vignettes aid in helping Soldiers understand how one lapse in concentration can cause a lifetime of problems.
Grinston was on-hand to assist at the promotion ceremony of eight Soldiers at the foyer of the U.S. Army Military Police School command section, which included PV2s Rayne Jasoni and Nathanial Marshall, Pfcs. Alphonso Daniel and Brandon Rosatorres, Spcs. Kevin Barros and Bryan Merchant, and Sgts. 1st Class Tanee Lowther and Julio De La Cruz.
Before departing Fort Leonard Wood Tuesday evening, Grinston stopped to discuss the ‘This is My Squad’ initiative with a class of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division students.
Grinston said the goal of the initiative is to build more cohesive teams throughout the Army, who can effectively anticipate a Soldier’s problems.
“My goal with ‘This is My Squad’ is I want you to understand the environment that you’re in, and notice when something is not right,” he said. “It’s not to be a counselor and know the perfect thing to say. You may not know the answers, but I want you to be able to pick up on the signs.”
“Changing the culture takes years,” he added. “I think I can be an advocate for change — I can be a champion — but it has to come from the bottom up. If it’s only (coming from) me, it isn’t going to change.”