Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Summer transition is in full swing as outbound personnel continue to depart and inbound personnel begin arriving on Fort Leavenworth, and Garrison Commander Col. Harry Hung said things are going smoothly.
“We’re doing very well with our outbound students,” Hung said.
Only eight School of Advanced Military Studies students and 13 Command and General Staff Officer Course students have yet to depart, he said.
“As far as students coming in, almost all of the SAMS faculty have arrived, and that’s just under 50,” he said.
Currently, 854 CGSOC students are expected to arrive on Fort Leavenworth in the coming weeks, Hung said, and some have already begun to arrive.
Permanent party personnel are also expected to arrive in the coming weeks, Hung said.
“We’re still reviewing (permanent party numbers), but as they come in, we make sure that we take care of them the same way that we’re taking care of everybody else,” Hung said.
Since February, Hung has been tracking each incoming family and working with several entities on post, including Unified School District 207, Fort Leavenworth Frontier Heritage Communities and the Logistics Readiness Center Transportation Office as part of a pilot initiative begun by Gen. Gus Perna, Army Materiel Command commanding general, to improve permanent change-of-station moves by giving inbound and outbound students their request for orders 120-180 days out.
Fort Leavenworth, along with Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and Fort Bliss, Texas, are part of a pilot program that could lead to improving the PCS process for all soldiers.
Hung said COVID-19 precautions have helped that effort.
“We’re trying to spread everybody out so that not one week becomes overly taxing if we start to see positive COVID cases,” Hung said. “COVID has actually helped us because it has driven why it is so important that we need to do what we’re currently doing — managing by name tape level detail for every family, every service member, all the intricacies of their kids, when they’re going to arrive. It has really helped us to deliver.
“The fact that we have (COVID) now causes us to leverage the process that we built in place,” he said. “(Installation Management Command) Directorate-Training even asked us to present what we’re currently doing so that it can be shared with the rest of the installations in IMCOM.”
Arrival dates are prioritized based on the structure of the family unit. Families with high school students are set to arrive throughout the month of July, and families with school-age students are set to arrive no later than Aug. 3. This is to help families successfully complete the required 14-day quarantine without interrupting the schoolyear, which begins Aug. 17.
Following families with high school and school-age children come families with non-school-age children, couples with no children, and single service members and geographic bachelors.
This process has helped USD 207 plan for incoming families better, too.
“We have had more timely information in the past several weeks than in many past years, supporting our planning for the upcoming schoolyear,” said Keith Mispagel, USD 207 superintendent. “With (the help of all involved), USD 207 is able to plan for what will best serve our Fort Leavenworth school district during this challenging and unknown ‘new normal.’”
In an effort to secure housing for incoming personnel, FLFHC has made the effort to assign a home address to families before their arrival.
“Previously it was only assigned by neighborhood,” said Joe Gandara, FLFHC community director. “By assigning them to a specific address, the resident now has some expectation of what they’re moving into, they have a forwarding address, and they have an address where they can ship their household goods.
“Most of the people have been happy with the fact that they’ve been moving into an address that they know,” he said.
So far, 600 homes have been vacated and are in the process of being turned for new residents. Turning a home, depending on its condition, may include carpet and vinyl replacement, general maintenance of fixtures and appliances, and painting. The home must then pass two quality control inspections — one with FLFHC and one with the Army.
“The house is not deemed ready for occupancy until the Army does its quality control inspection,” Gandara said.
The turning process takes seven to 20 working days, depending on the condition of the home, Gandara said.
Gandara said the largest groups of inbound students have yet to arrive, but he feels confident that things will continue to go as planned.
“Because we know who they are, because we know where they’re moving to, I right now feel very comfortable that we are going to have everything set for those residents when they arrive,” Gandara said. “I have a lot of staff, I have a lot of people working. We’ve even brought people from outside of the state to help us work, and we’re working six days a week.”
Along with having homes ready for families upon arrival, the effort includes making sure their belongings arrive in a timely manner.
Arrival of personal belongings depends on the the family’s agreement with the transportation service provider and the delivery date determined, said Deb Palmer, Logistics Readiness Center director.
“We really haven’t had too many hiccups as far as being able to give them within a day or so of their requested delivery date,” Palmer said. “If they have a house, and they’re ready to accept delivery, the TSPs are doing their best to get it to them at that time.
“We’re not really getting any major issues … but any little thing can put a kink in it,” she said. “If it goes smoothly in all the other areas, ours will flow right in as far as them arriving on time and they get their house. Then when their personal property gets here, the carriers can either do direct delivery or deliver within a couple of days. … It’s a very fine process.”
For the latest information about summer transition, watch the bi-weekly live community updates hosted by Hung at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays on the Fort Leavenworth Facebook page.