Tag Archives: USASMA

Program teaches future sergeants major to boost Soldiers’ wellness

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By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

The new year will bring a crop of sergeants major with a new outlook on wellness.

Class 67 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy is taking part in the Executive Wellness Program, which is intended to merge information on the Performance Triad with resilience training to help new sergeants major become better Soldiers and leaders.

“We’re trying to bring those two together to help mitigate health issues and optimize readiness,” said Sgt. 1st Class Darin E. Elkins, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Executive Wellness Center at USASMA. “With the Performance Triad — sleep, activity, nutrition — we’re doing a baseline assessment.”

Students were screened about their personal habits, including questions about whether they got enough sleep, how many fruits and vegetables they ate, how much activity they engaged in, and whether they had any pain.

The baseline assessment took place in the fall, near the beginning of Class 67’s instruction. In addition to questions, each of the more than 600 students were run through physical drills such as short sprints, one-footed hops, and holding yoga positions to assess their speed, dexterity and flexibility — as well as identify any lingering pain. The students also underwent vital signs tests and used a machine to check their body fat composition, a more precise measurement than the commonly checked body mass index.

A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy's Class 67 does a one-legged hop during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Class 67 does a one-legged hop during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

As part of the assessments on each area of the triad, the students were coded as green, amber or red — green meaning doing well, amber indicating borderline performance in an area and red suggesting the Soldiers need to improve their sleep, activity or nutrition habits.

Immediately after the assessment, Soldiers met with a dietitian, a physical therapist and a clinical social worker to discuss their results.

At the final station of the assessment, Elkins said, wellness program representatives made sure all the students were signed up for RelayHealth, a Web portal that provides access and appointments to doctors and other health professionals, and knew how to use it and what resources the site provides.

The baseline assessment was just the start of the program, Elkins said. Throughout their time at USASMA at Fort Bliss, Texas, the students of Class 67 will be given further assessments and access to information and resources to help them improve their health and resilience and to teach their Soldiers to do the same when they return to their units as sergeants major.

“They all get a baseline, to know where they are,” Elkins said. “The idea is to have them identify those mitigating issues and then at the end of the school year or the class year, do another baseline to see if there are any changes: Did they learn anything? How can they use that information to take out to the operational Army when they leave here? How can they best optimize readiness for their Soldiers?”

“You build on (the baseline assessment) to change habits or to incorporate better habits,” he continued. “I’ve dropped modules in strategically throughout the school year.”

Elkins said 24 modules, each focusing on different aspects of the Performance Triad or resilience, are available electronically for discussion as part of Class 67’s coursework. The Executive Wellness Program also provides information guides, challenge guides and other technological resources to better teach the future sergeants major how to set wellness goals, eat for performance, enhance Physical Readiness Training and deal with sleep deprivation.

A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy's Class 67 stretches in a yoga pose during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Class 67 stretches in a yoga pose during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

Representatives from the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness office at USASMA also took part in the Executive Wellness Program assessments. CSF2 will teach Class 67 the Master Resilience Training course, and Elkins said including the office in Performance Triad training will help teachers “bring it all together” when it comes to the effects of sleep, nutrition and activity on mental resilience.

Elkins said, “There are a lot of things Soldiers don’t know, especially when they’re 19, 20, 21,” about treating pain, behavioral health, using dietitians or receiving physical therapy.

“Some of the ownership needs to be on the individual,” Elkins said, “but they can’t own it if they don’t know what the resources are. So we try to help them identify some of the ailments, some of the things they’re not doing well. Now they can address that on their own.”

Master Sgt. Decarlo Johnson, a student in Class 67, said he was all green after the assessment. He said he arrived at USASMA fairly familiar with the Performance Triad and tried to implement optimizing techniques already.

He was, however, new to the body fat composition testing machines.

“I was interested to see what my body fat composition was, and I think they should do that more for Soldiers with the machine,” Johnson said. “That’s a great machine to have. If you had that in the unit, Soldiers would be more aware of their body fat and what they need to do to maintain” their weight.

Even though the concepts of the Performance Triad and resilience were familiar to him, he was excited to see the Executive Wellness Program for new sergeants major.

A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy's Class 67 does a standing a jump during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Class 67 does a standing a jump during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

“It’ll definitely help,” he said of the wellness program. “We have Soldiers who are overweight who can benefit from the nutrition and sleep (information) if they have problems with sleeping. If you get your sleep right, nutrition might be better, so I think it’ll benefit a lot in the unit.”

Lt. Col. Cyndi McLean, a physical therapist from the Executive Wellness Office at USASMA, said Johnson’s realization that each aspect of the Performance Triad affects the others is exactly what the program is trying to teach.

“If you consider one aspect of that triangle, if you’re doing really well, you’re probably going to have some benefits carry over to the other aspects of that triangle,” she said. “If you’re not doing so well in one of those corners of the triangle, you might be having some negative detriments in the other areas as well. The intent is to make sure that you’re optimizing each of those categories to make sure that you’re being the best Soldier that you possibly can.

“In this setting, we’re not only asking them to look at that for themselves personally but professionally,” McLean continued. “These are the senior leaders who are going to be in charge of those formations in just a few months. They’re going to be those sergeants major. Are they making sure their Soldiers are optimizing their performance with regards to sleep, activity, nutrition?”

Wellness assessment at USASMA reveals common problem: not enough sleep

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By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

When representatives from the Executive Wellness Center assessed Class 67 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy recently, they found themselves doling out the same advice to many of the sergeants-major-to-be: Get more sleep.

Lt. Col. Cyndi McLean was one of three medical professionals who reviewed students’ responses to a questionnaire about healthy habits related to the three elements of the Performance Triad — activity, nutrition and sleep.

McLean is a physical therapist and said one problem area came up over and over again.

“I would love to say that it was activity,” she said, but many of the students’ biggest shortcoming was sleep.

“A lot of them don’t realize what optimal sleep is,” she said. “They don’t realize healthy hygiene habits. It’s something that is very fixable. I think that we all sometimes jump to more of a clinical or medical diagnosis: ‘I have sleep apnea.’ Well, maybe there’s some room for improvement there and some things that we can do to help you in that category and not just give it a test, give it a label, give it a diagnosis. We really want to help you through that process to truly optimize your sleep.”

A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy's Class 67 has his body fat composition checked. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
A student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Class 67 has his body fat composition checked. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

At the beginning of their school year, the more than 600 students of Class 67 took part in the first assessments of the office’s new Executive Wellness Program. The program is intended to bring the Performance Triad and resilience training together to help the senior noncommissioned officers become better Soldiers and leaders.

McLean said that not getting enough sleep can be the root of many other performance problems. If Soldiers sleep better, she said, they start to see benefits in other areas, such as improved eating and activity levels and reduced anxiety.

Lt. Col. Devvon Bradley, a licensed clinical social worker who also took part in the assessments, agreed that sleep is the linchpin for performance.

“It’s interesting because, in here, every time I see a sleep problem up front, it leads to the nutrition issues and then the activity at the end,” he said. “There are pain issues and there are also dietary issues, almost like a direct correlate. If there are no sleep issues up front, it’s less likely that there are nutrition problems and less likely that there are physical problems — pain issues — at the end.

Lt. Col. Cyndi McLean, a physical therapist, speaks with a student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy's Class 67 during an assessment by the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
Lt. Col. Cyndi McLean, a physical therapist, speaks with a student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Class 67 during an assessment by the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

“The connection between sleep, activity and nutrition? There’s no doubt in my mind about it,” he continued. “It’s a triad, and each one contributes to the other. If you can help one, you can help the others. It looks like sleep is in the lead, in terms of if you fix it first, you have a better chance of fixing the other stuff.”

McLean said that sleep issues not only lead to problems in other areas but also noted that not sleeping well can make it harder to resolve Soldiers’ other problems.

“If I see that you have a pain issue, but you’re not willing to address your sleep habits, I’m not going to be able to get you as good as I possibly could,” she said. “Your prognosis is going to be on the lesser side. Once those people open up (about sleep), it’s amazing how much of their chronic pain, their aches, their issues like that get better as well.”

As McLean, Bradley and registered dietitian Capt. Michelle Stone reviewed Class 67’s questionnaires, the future sergeants major were categorized as green, amber or red in each of the three Performance Triad areas.

“What I’m seeing on people’s faces is the lightbulb going on,” Bradley said.

Lt. Col. Devvon Bradley, a licensed clinical social worker, left, speaks with a student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy's Class 67 during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
Lt. Col. Devvon Bradley, a licensed clinical social worker, left, speaks with a student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Class 67 during an assessment for the Executive Wellness Program. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

Many of the NCOs didn’t realize they were red in the sleep category, he said, and now they not only know they have a problem but also know where to get help.

Sgt. 1st Class Darin E. Elkins, the NCO in charge of the Executive Wellness Center, coordinated and led the assessments, and he saw the same lightbulbs turn on.

“Once you identify an area where you’re not doing well, you think, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that. Oh, I didn’t realize that taking in two or three cups of coffee or energy drinks at 6 p.m. is impacting my sleep, which is impacting my cognitive abilities, which is impacting my output,’ ” Elkins said. “Once we’ve identified it for them and say here’s a way to better optimize these things that they’re doing, then they can start making the changes. If you always do what you’ve always done, you get the same outcomes.”

The assessments were just the beginning of the program. Throughout the school year, the students of Class 67 will be given more training on the Performance Triad and resilience, and Bradley expects their personal realizations and training will pay dividends well beyond these particular NCOs.

“They’re leaders in the Army,” Bradley said, “so when they go back out to their units, they will push the same message of science and wellness.”

Camaraderie boosts USASMA’s newest students

By STAFF SGT. TIMOTHY D. HUGHES
NCO Journal

When Soldiers see sergeants major walking to formations across the Army, many feel a sense of pride and respect for the position a select number of career Soldiers are entrusted with.

Many times, Soldiers go as far as fixing the pockets on their trousers when they see a sergeant major within their line of sight to ensure they have no uniform infractions.

Master Sgts. Latevia Williams-Green, Racheal Terrell, (back right to left) Tiny Jones, and Mildred Lara, students in the Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, encourage classmates during an Army Physical Fitness Test Aug. 25 at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Timothy D. Hughes / NCO Journal)
Master Sgts. Latevia Williams-Green, Racheal Terrell, (back right to left) Tiny Jones, and Mildred Lara, students in the Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, encourage classmates during an Army Physical Fitness Test Aug. 25 at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Staff Sgt. Timothy D. Hughes / NCO Journal)

Respect for the position did not happen overnight. The rank of sergeant major was established in 1958 and has been worn by the likes of the retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army William O. Wooldridge, and Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchett, the first female to be nominated to compete for sergeant major of the Army (twice).

No matter the pedigree, their journey had to start somewhere.

Enter the Sergeants Major Course in the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. The academy was established in July 1972 and is hosting its 67th iteration of resident NCOs.

Class 67 features master sergeants, sergeants major from the Army Reserve and National Guard components, and equivalent ranks from various branches of the U.S. Armed Force and 39 international allied-partner nations.

A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy rests after competing his push-ups during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.
A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy rests after competing his push-ups during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 10-month-long course covers a range of topics including ethics, oral and written communications, counterinsurgency operations, the legal process, strategic concepts, and the joint operation planning process.

Like other NCO Professional Development Schools, no one — regardless of rank or position — is accepted into the academy without passing the Army Physical Fitness Test, which on Aug. 25 brought out the best in the classmates who displayed remarkable camaraderie after being together for fewer than three weeks.

“We are building relationships that [will] help us move forward with this class for the next 10 months,” said Master Sgt. Latevia Williams-Green, a student at the course.

Australian Army Warrant Officer Darren Murch, staff group advisor, Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, gives marching commands as students transition to the run event of an Amy Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Australian Army Warrant Officer Darren Murch, staff group advisor, Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, gives marching commands as students transition to the run event of an Amy Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.

“Camaraderie is important … we’re all in this journey together,” said the Estill, South Carolina, native. “We started together and our goal is to actually finish together.”

The contagious feeling of camaraderie was not limited to the students as it spilled over to the hardened veterans of the academy’s cadre.

“It makes me feel really good to see the camaraderie,” said Sgt. Maj. Kerry Guthrie, the chair of the Department of Command Leadership of the Sergeants Major Course.

“It helps the students very much because they are from all different [military occupational specialties],” Guthrie said. “It allows them over the time of the course to establish relationships with each other and network.”

The challenging graduate-level course may not always be so light-hearted. The students are required to pass 19 exams and eight written assignments.

A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy performs push-ups Aug. 25 during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.
A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy performs push-ups Aug. 25 during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Although it is not a requirement, students who have not obtained a degree will have the opportunity to do so while at the academy.

“It’s all about education,” Williams-Green said. “Every chance you to try to learn or take some classes — get there! The opportunity’s there for us to get degrees and attend different [NCOPDSs]. We just have to take advantage of it.”

The class is scheduled to graduate next June after USASMA fulfills its mission: to provide professional military education that develops enlisted leaders to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

 

204th Military Intelligence Battalion welcomes new NCOs

By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

Surrounded by exhibits depicting the greatness of the NCO Corps through the ages, nine new leaders were welcomed into the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion in an NCO induction ceremony Sept. 8 at the NCO Heritage and Education Center at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The inductees were addressed by guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Richard Tucker, who until his recent retirement was the director for the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
The inductees were addressed by guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Richard Tucker, who until his recent retirement was the director for the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

“These Soldiers have shown they are no longer ‘worker bees.’ They have set themselves apart as professionals,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ken Bean, command sergeant major of the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade. “I’m very proud of the NCOs in our NCO Corps and where they are today. I see them stepping up in a time of turmoil to train and take care of our nation.”

At the start of the ceremony, the inductees were addressed by guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Richard Tucker, who until his recent retirement was the director for the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. He encouraged them to prioritize their education and to take their roles as Army leaders seriously.

Nine new NCOs were inducted into the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion on Thursday during a ceremony at the NCO Heritage Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Nine new NCOs were inducted into the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion during a ceremony Sept. 8 at the NCO Heritage and Education Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

“People like me, I’m a dinosaur,” Tucker said. “It’s almost time for me to go. As a matter of fact, I walk the stage tomorrow for my retirement ceremony. And right now, I go to sleep every night nice and peaceful, because I know the greatest men and women of this country are protecting me. It’s you guys. You staff sergeants, sergeants first class: You are the future.”

Sgt. Davonte Winn walks under an archway, signifying his transition from junior enlisted Soldier to NCO. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Sgt. Davonte Winn walks under an archway, signifying his transition from junior enlisted Soldier to NCO. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

Following Tucker’s address, the audience joined the inductees in reciting the NCO Creed. Then, three NCOs representing the NCOs of the past, present and future lit three candles displayed behind wooden “N,” “C” and “O” letters. A red candle represented valor, a white candle honor and integrity, and a blue candle vigilance.

As their names were called, the young men and women each walked under a wooden archway signifying their transition from junior enlisted to NCO and then signed their name alongside their command sergeant major’s on their certificate – the “Charge to the Newly Promoted Noncommissioned Officer.” To end the ceremony, the group proudly sang the Army song.

Sgt. Luis Peluyera Rivera, one of the nine inducted during the ceremony, said he is proud of his and his comrades’ accomplishments.

“I feel like I’ve made it. We are the backbone of the Army, and it is great to finally be a part of it,” he said.

The charge to the newly promoted noncommissioned officer, signed by both the NCO and the command sergeant major, states, “I will discharge carefully and diligently the duties of the grade to which I have been promoted and uphold the traditions and standards of the Army. I understand that Soldiers of lesser rank are required to obey my lawful orders. Accordingly, I accept responsibility for their actions. As a noncommissioned officer, I accept the charge to observe and follow the orders and directions given by supervisors acting according to the laws, articles and rules governing the discipline of the Army, I will correct conditions detrimental to the readiness thereof. In so doing, I will fulfill my greatest obligation as a leader and thereby confirm my status as a noncommissioned officer.” (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
The charge to the newly promoted noncommissioned officer, signed by both the NCO and the command sergeant major, states, “I will discharge carefully and diligently the duties of the grade to which I have been promoted and uphold the traditions and standards of the Army. I understand that Soldiers of lesser rank are required to obey my lawful orders. Accordingly, I accept responsibility for their actions. As a noncommissioned officer, I accept the charge to observe and follow the orders and directions given by supervisors acting according to the laws, articles and rules governing the discipline of the Army, I will correct conditions detrimental to the readiness thereof. In so doing, I will fulfill my greatest obligation as a leader and thereby confirm my status as a noncommissioned officer.” (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Three NCOs acting on behalf of NCOs of the past, present and future light three candles. The red candle represents valor, the white honor and integrity, and the blue vigilance. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Three NCOs acting on behalf of NCOs of the past, present and future light three candles. The red candle represents valor, the white honor and integrity, and the blue vigilance. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

‘Share the knowledge,’ SMA Dailey urges fellowship program grads

By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

Eager to share what they have learned with the next generation of senior noncommissioned officers, 19 sergeants major graduated in August from the pioneering U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas. The graduates, all newly armed with master’s degrees in adult education from Pennsylvania State University, will perform two- to three years as senior NCO instructors in the Sergeants Major Course.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, congratulates Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Roche. Defreese called the graduation a major milestone for the NCO Corps and NCO education. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, congratulates Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Roche. Defreese called the graduation a major milestone for the NCO Corps and NCO education. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

Dubbing it a major milestone for the NCO Corps and NCO education, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, said the distance-learning program was “specifically designed to further our NCO Professional Development System and this should indicate … the Army is committed to the education of our NCOs.”

Advancing the corps

Sylvester Smith, fellowship program manager, read a congratulatory letter to the graduates from Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey during the ceremony Aug. 22. Calling the graduating class an inspiration, Dailey wrote “information is a commodity” and urged graduates of the online program to share it.

“I firmly believe you will continue to advance the corps and the Army as you apply your newfound knowledge as instructors in our academy,” Dailey wrote. “Do not hold anything back. As NCOs, we are trained if we share the knowledge then we as a corps will be able to develop and train the most versatile and effective corpsmen our Army has ever seen.”

Sgt. Maj. Jason B. Johnson receives congratulations after graduating from the USASMA Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Sgt. Maj. Jason B. Johnson receives congratulations after graduating from the USASMA Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

Offering his own congratulations, Smith said the “graduates represent the best of the profession in the Army and set the standard” for others to follow.

“In your search for knowledge, collectively you have increased your value to service and country,” Smith told the graduates.

Though no specific military occupational specialty is sought, the cross-section of students face an advanced curriculum to better professionalize senior NCO instructors in the classroom. Under the fellowship program, fellows have one year to focus exclusively on completing a master’s degree in adult education.

Guest speaker Renata S. Engel, associate vice provost for online programs at Penn State, told the crowd she was very pleased that two historic organizations such as the university and the U.S. Army came together in a special program and praised the graduates as “risk-takers.”

The 19 graduates are due to perform two- to three years as senior NCO instructors in the Sergeants Major Course. (Photo by David Crozier / U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy)
The 19 graduates, shown with William Diehl and Renate S. Engel from Pennsylvania State University, are due to perform two- to three years as senior NCO instructors in the Sergeants Major Course. (Photo by David Crozier / U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy)

“You were the first,” Engel said. “There was a risk involved, and I would like to think risk without preparation is folly. … But risk with preparation, along with the confidence that comes that you’re building on foundation … what you create is a path that is more accessible to those who follow. … It’s not just what you accomplish. It’s what you enable others to accomplish, and your degrees in education are actually going to elevate that even higher.”

‘Stick with learning’

In closing her address, Engel said she wouldn’t be giving the graduates any advice as graduation guest speakers often do. Instead, she offered them two wishes.

Graduates from the pioneering U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas, take their seats during a ceremony. Nineteen sergeants major graduated Aug. 22 with master's degrees in adult education from Pennsylvania State University. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Graduates from the pioneering U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas, take their seats during a ceremony. Nineteen sergeants major graduated Aug. 22 with master’s degrees in adult education from Pennsylvania State University. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

“I wish that at some point in your life as an educator you have the joy that comes from a student, a learner, someone who’s following you, tell you about the impact that you have made on them,” Engel said. “It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be amazing when it does. … The second wish I have for you is a wish that you will always want, and I don’t just mean in your profession but … throughout life ─ that you love learning and find so much appreciation for it that you stick with learning.”

The fellowship program offers an opportunity for qualified active-duty senior NCOs to become ambassadors of the Army in the classroom who will help develop agile, adaptive and innovative leaders of the future.

After the past year, Sgt. Maj. Timothy W. Magee and Sgt. Maj. Manuel D. Atencio said they are ready to take their talents into the classroom.

“I am hoping to impress what I have learned in school with the students, and partly the information that I have learned in school is going to help us empathize with what the students are going to be going through,” Magee said. “We know from first-hand experience the pressure we felt going through a new program that we didn’t know anything about. That’s exactly how these students coming through the Sergeant Major Course feel. We’ve got recent education experience with the same anxieties that they are getting ready to experience, so I think that’s going to help us [in the classroom].”

“It was a transformational process, not having been in school for a while to taking four classes at one time,” Atencio said. “It was a great learning experience.”

Both graduates said they would recommend the fellowship program to senior NCOs and encourage them to continue their education.

“I think it’s a very worthwhile program,” Magee said. “One of the amazing parts was when we all got together at Christmas time and we had just completed four classes. … I didn’t realize I had learned anything until we sat around and talked. Just listening to everybody say, ‘Well we talked about this, and we learned this and we learned that,’ and I’m like ‘Holy cow, we actually did learn something.’ It was amazing and pretty fun, too.”

 

Fellowship program graduates
  • Sgt. Maj. James J. Adcock
  • Sgt. Maj. Manuel D. Atencio
  • Sgt. Maj. Scot D. Cates
  • Sgt. Maj. Carl B. Dwyer Jr.
  • Sgt. Maj. John O. Garrison
  • Sgt. Maj. Reginald R. Gooden
  • Sgt. Maj. Jason B. Johnson
  • Sgt. Maj. David J. Lee Jr.
  • Sgt. Maj. Jason F. Leeworthy
  • Sgt. Maj. Timothy W. Magee
  • Sgt. Maj. Patrick D. Mason
  • Sgt. Maj. Feliece Y. Murrell
  • Sgt. Maj. Pedro F. Quiñones
  • Sgt. Maj. Dennis M. Reynolds
  • Sgt. Maj. Ryan C. Robert
  • Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Roche
  • Sgt. Maj. Timothy C. Todd
  • Sgt. Maj. Steven M. Townsend
  • Sgt. Maj. Terry J. Wade

For more information on the program, contact Sgt. Maj. Joseph J. Hissong, director, USASMA Fellowship Program at 915-744-8827 or email him at joseph.j.hissong.mil@mail.mil