Coffee 5 - Copy.jpgU.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford "Beags" Beagle Jr., right, speaks with members of Fort Jackson Police during a "Coffee and Conversation" session Feb. 6. During the session, attendees were given an opportunity to speak with the commander one-on-one. (Photo Credit: Alexandra Shea)

By Alexandra Shea

Fort Jackson Leader

Fort Jackson does not have the largest permanent party population due to its unique mission of transforming citizens to Soldiers but it does train the most Soldiers. While the permanent party population may be small, they are outnumbered more than three to one with more than 60,000 trainees that cycle through the post each year.

Everyday thousands of Soldiers, civilians and contractors buzz across the post as they complete daily tasks and missions in support of the post's mission - showing there never was "relaxing" in Jackson.

For those supporting the safety of the installation and it's people, they were provided an opportunity to network with fellow employees spread across the installation and spend a few moments getting to know and speak with the post commander one-on-one as part of his new initiative called "Coffee and Conversation" on Feb. 6.

"Not every base that I have worked at has this opportunity," said Benjamin Allgood, a Fort Jackson firefighter and emergency medical technician. "If this is a regular thing, I think it will be positive."

Allgood was one of roughly 50 Soldiers and civilians from the Directorate of Emergency Services who met with U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford "Beags" Beagle Jr., and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah Gan during Coffee and Conversation.

Firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians, military and civilian police and support staff gathered in the bay that normally houses firetrucks and emergency response vehicles. Beagle first greeted employees armed with radios, body armor, 9mm side arms and coffee cups. He then mingled among employees to wish a good morning and ask how they support the emergency services department to open dialog with the staff.

Allgood expressed safety concerns that had been weighing on his mind.
This is a chance to make a change that will help further efforts to protect installation students and cadre.

"I feel it was positive," Allgood said of the commander's response to his concern. "He agreed the intersection could use a stop sign and said he is going to talk to the right people about it."

The morning meeting seems to be accomplishing the mission of continued dialog with the workforce, clarifying directorate and commander's intent, team building and inclusion. It was also an opportunity to recognize the efforts of the directorate for their community outreach efforts during the National Night Out event held last August. For the second year, the Fort Jackson Directorate of Emergency Services earned the national award for hosting one of the nation's best events on a military installation.

"There's always the case of 'what the CG said,'" Beagle said. "What is always lost is context and what was really at hand and being discussed."
"It's the same vice versa. Things that you want to share with me so I can understand where you are coming from," Beagle said. "Having you to be able to speak to something as well as I do ... that balances us out."

During the morning coffee meeting, Beagle met with as many emergency service staff as possible. This included not only department heads and chiefs but the lowest ranking personnel as well.

"It was a little intimidating because I am only a sergeant first class," said Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Taylor, a police operations specialist with the Fort Jackson Provost Marshall's office. "Questions were answered and clarified but I don't think it was solely about that but more about senior leaders showing (we) matter. It (Coffee and Conversation) was a good thing."

According to Beagle, the initiative will be ongoing for departments and directorates that choose to participate. He said during his address that, "the onus is on you," meaning those who wish to participate must let him know. "I'm here to be interested in what you have to say," Beagle said in closing.