New U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth paid a visit to Fort Hood on Thursday, making it her first visit to a major military installation since assuming her duties on May 28.
Wormuth is also the first female secretary of the Army in U.S. history.
During her visit, she got updates on “Operation People First,” met with junior enlisted soldiers, toured barracks, family housing and motorpools.
Operation People First is a campaign aimed at building trust and strengthening bonds for all 90,000 soldiers across III Corps, including Forts Hood, Bliss, Carson, and Riley, according to a press release from the Fort Hood Press Center.
The People First program has three focus areas: getting to know soldiers, certifying leaders, and leaders’ holding leaders accountable for individual and unit actions.
Wormuth held a closed-door listening session with junior enlisted soldiers from several Fort Hood brigades and battalions. Only privates through specialists were included in the hour-long discussion.
“I believe soldiers like myself were able to express concerns with how we’re being taken care of,” Spc. Michael Alvarado said. “It’s always good to check on the people who are doing the work; making sure we have cohesion.”
Spc. Ricardo Alma expressed appreciation that Wormuth was interested in barracks and security, due to her ability to influence policy changes at the Pentagon.
“It’s exciting to see her down here,” Spc. Shaun Washington said, a Stryker systems maintainer assigned to 3rd Cavalry Regiment. “I’m glad she can see how we operate on the ground, how we actually live and see our truth.”
Following the morning’s briefings, Wormuth had lunch with a panel of battalion leaders, hosted at the Theodore Roosevelt Dining Facility.
“It’s such an honor to have the secretary of the Army at this dining facility,” Sgt. 1st Class Luz Simmons and dining hall manager said. “It feels good to have this kind of representation in the office, I feel empowered, and I know that women can make it to the top.”
Following lunch, Wormuth toured the installation and reviewed barracks renovation projects and a mix of old and new family housing.
Wormuth concluded her visit by touring 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment’s motorpool, where she met Armor, Infantry, and logistics soldiers. Fort Hood boasts the Army’s largest row of motorpools, slightly over five miles long from end-to-end, packed with tracked-vehicles, artillery equipment, Strykers, and tactical trucks.
Wormuth finished the day by making remarks reflecting on the Corps’ efforts to improve the command’s climate and to work towards lasting cultural changes.
“Fort Hood continues to move forward to reshape how leaders communicate to their formations. The rate that units train and deploy can affect unit cohesion,” Wormuth said. “We must look at the effects of work-life balance to ensure that our soldiers and their families have the tools needed to be mission-ready both deployed and at home.”