Staff Sgt. Matthew Holifield, HHC, USAG, tries to keep a straight face during a haircut by his wife, Amber. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Denise Min

Troops maintain standards amid COVID-19 HPCON measures

The potential for contracting the virus known as COVID-19, and its accompanying Health Protection Condition measures has forced the Department of Defense to enact increasing levels of protective measures for those in and out of uniform.

While most civilian personnel are teleworking, they don’t have to shave or exercise or even cut their hair. Standards for service members, however, do not lower despite the challenges of not having formations or barbers. Military leaders are now faced with the challenge of continuing to motivate and maintain discipline.

At Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison, Command Sgt. Maj. Jamila Smith said squad leaders are charged with making sure troops are motivated. They are well aware of what is expected of them, she said.

“As for grooming standards and any others, like (physical readiness training), Soldiers are instructed to maintain the best way they can,” said Smith. “However, as a leader during this unprecedented moment in time, one must consider how to accomplish certain tasks. This requires creativity and truly leading those who are unfamiliar with difficult times.”

Marines on Henderson Hall must also maintain grooming and fitness standards. Marine Capt. Jamison Williams said his Marines are keep fit and maintaining standards easily, despite social distancing mandates.

“Maintaining healthy habits during these difficult and trying times is so important. Maintaining our standards within the context of these healthy habits is also important,” said Williams. “I know it’s possible to fight and win over both the coronavirus and the urge for lax standards by staying accountable and supportive of each other.”

HHC 1st Sgt. Dustin Hall challenged his platoon leaders to find ways to keep troops entertained and actively engaged in physical readiness.

“First sergeant told us to find a way to keep Soldiers engaged and entertained while maintaining readiness standards, so I had my Soldiers doing virtual PT,” said Sgt. 1st Class Denise Min, HHC platoon sergeant.

“Now is the time to reach back and use the skills that we already had before depending entirely on someone else,” said the sergeant major of her leaders. “Use the tools available like YouTube to teach how to cut your own hair, Pinterest to provide a full body workout plan. All the Soldiers need is the initiative, pride, and motivation to do it. So far, I have not seen issues in this area as a certain level of pride has been maintained. I believe that when you look good, you feel good. Be resilient!”