'Wagonmasters' talk communication at Wagonmaster Shout-Out
By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain
15th Sus. Bde. Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas — The 15th Sustainment Brigade’s Soldiers and leaders gathered at Fort Hood’s Howze Theater Sept. 24 for the brigade’s monthly Wagonmaster Shout-Out.
The Shout-Out, held the fourth Wednesday each month, is an opportunity for the brigade’s commander, Col. Larry Phelps, to recognize Soldiers’ outstanding achievements through awards as well as talk about important issues affecting the brigade’s Soldiers, said Phelps.
The brigade recognized twelve Soldiers for their accomplishments during this month’s ceremony, including three Freeman Dining Facility cooks for their efforts in the Top Chef Competition earlier in the month.
After the awards were presented, Phelps spoke to the Soldiers about important upcoming events, such as the election on Nov. 4, and he stressed the importance of voting.
“This is the only job in the world where we get to vote for our commander,” Phelps said.
During the ceremony, Phelps unveiled the Wagonmaster Jersey, a custom-made gold and black football jersey with the number 15 on the front and back, and the brigade’s patch on its shoulders.
According to Phelps, the only way to get one of the limited edition jerseys is to reenlist. All Soldiers who reenlisted after Sept. 1 are eligible to receive a jersey.
During last month’s Shout-Out, Phelps gave the Soldiers an opportunity to come up with ways to make the brigade better by writing comments and questions on an index card.
“I sat down, and we brainstormed it, and figured out how we’re going to answer these questions,” Phelps said.
The comments ranged from units not having enough of the proper equipment to complete their training to having more predictability in the amount of time Soldiers get to spend at home with their families.
Phelps explained the latest and greatest equipment was currently deployed, where it is needed, but he assured the Soldiers that their units would get the time here to train on the equipment before they deployed.
He also explained both the unit and post were implementing measures to ensure Soldiers get as much time to spend with their families as possible.
Through things like Phantom Time on Thursday afternoons, and working to ensure everyone who is not on a specific mission is home by 6 p.m., Phelps wants to ensure all Soldiers get as much time as possible to spend with their families.
But that doesn’t mean things like charge of quarters, and staff duty are going away.
“Are we still going to pull CQ? Are we still going to have duty?” Phelps asked the crowd. “Yeah, we’re still in the Army.”
Since communication is a two-way process, Phelps also introduced the Commander’s Hotline, a way for Soldiers and families to contact him directly for help with issues that are not getting resolved through the normal channels.
By clicking on the Commander’s Hotline button on the brigade’s webpage, www.supporttheaction.net, Soldiers and their families can send a confidential email directly to Phelps.
Phelps encouraged the Soldiers to use their chain of command to try to solve problems first.
“We’re not trying to go around the chain of command, but there are times you need to get something sorted out,” Phelps said.
Phelps also addressed the importance of safety, especially while driving their car or motorcycle, and reminded Soldiers they are in control of their own lives.
The next Wagonmaster Shout-Out is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 22.
Col. Larry Phelps, the commander of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), unveils the Wagonmaster Jersey during the brigade's monthly Wagonmaster Shout-Out ceremony. The jersey is only available to those Soldiers in the 15th SB that reenlisted after Sept. 1. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)