JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
To better understand the opinions and concerns of more than 1.4 million U.S. Army personnel, including both Soldiers and civilians, and to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across the force and build cohesive teams, Army senior leaders directed a worldwide listening tour take place through fiscal year 2022.
The tour, called “Your Voice Matters,” made its way to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, home to nine general officer-level commands, Oct. 20-22. Hearing concerns about issues within the community is a priority for leaders across the various commands, as well as Army leadership as a whole.
“It is imperative that we continue to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture within our organization and our community, while listening to the experiences and recommendations of those around us,” said Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) commander and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Camp Bullis senior commander. “When it comes to the betterment of our Army, to placing people first and to winning, which for this command means defending the homeland, every voice truly does matter.”
During the three-day event, personnel were given an opportunity to attend a 90-minute listening session to discuss current social issues, to share personal experiences, and to offer suggestions to make the Army better and contribute to an inclusive environment.
“Having observed these listening sessions for the past few days I was humbled and inspired by the candor of our Soldiers and civilians," said Master Sgt. Andreane M. Mallett, ARNORTH equal opportunity advisor. “At the very beginning, we explained that we were here to listen, not to provide answers, and I think their willingness to discuss difficult issues impacting our community will help all of us.”
The Army will use data collected from the voluntary and confidential sessions to determine whether installation or Army-wide policies need to be reviewed, revised and/or updated based on systemic or institutional trends.
The tour is one part of the holistic Project Inclusion initiative the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army announced June 25.
“We’ll be initiating listening sessions to encourage the open dialogue that is critical to helping understand and support each other,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy in the announcement.
Listening session attendees had the option of attending in person or virtually. Those who attended in person were required to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 safety guidelines, including the wear of masks and social distancing.