'Wagonmaster' Leaders Get Away to get Things Done

By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain
15th Sus. Bde. Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO — The leaders and families of the headquarters and battalions of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), gathered July 25 in San Antonio for a planning conference to determine the next two years of the brigade.

The conference had three objectives: to get some tools, to get some work done, and to have some fun, said Greenville, Ala., native Col. Larry Phelps, the brigade’s commander.

The last part was especially important, said Phelps, who wanted the leaders to get away from the ringing phones at the office and spend some time together, with their Army family and their real family.

The conference’s first speaker, Mark Gorkin, a New York, native psychotherapist, talked to the Soldiers and their families about change, and the stresses that it brings.

“Stress comes in two forms, chronic and good,” Gorkin said.

He explained that good stress can motivate people to perform better, but becomes chronic when the stress is ongoing with no end in sight.

Gorkin said the key to breaking the cycle of stress is action.

“Have the courage to make a decision outside the box in order to break the cycle of stress,” he said.

The next tool leaders were briefed on was Military OneSource, or MOS www.militaryonesource.com, a free tool available to servicemembers and their families that can help them with a number of different topics.

“We’re here to be there 24/7 for your Soldiers and their families,” said Pete Murdock, the Army’s project manager for MOS. “We can help with any issue.”

Murdock explained that MOS can help with things like counseling, money matters, deployment, education, moving, and even things like translation in more than 150 different languages.

He also told the Soldiers and families about new features, like online libraries, where you can read complete books online for free.

“This is no longer just a thing you call to learn about deployment,” Murdock said.

Later in the day, the brigade’s leaders sat down together in order to plan the next two years for the brigade while their families had some time to hear about Army Community Service programs and Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors, or T.A.P.S.

To finish off the conference, Phelps briefed his brigade’s leadership on operations of a rear detachment, sharing experiences learned during his tenure as the rear detachment commander for the 1st Cavalry Division.

Phelps said the mission of the rear detachment is to handle everything at home so that the deployed Soldiers can focus on completing their mission.

He stressed the importance of keeping the family members, especially the ones that decide to move away from Fort Hood, informed during the deployment through the use of the brigade’s website, town hall meetings, news stories and video teleconferences.