Soldiers and Civilians of all ranks and both genders joined Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca’s commanding general, at Murr Community Center, March 7, for the first session for Sisters in Arms, a part of the new Sisters and Brothers in Arms Mentorship Program.
The Sisters in Arms portion of the program was initially designed to “provide a safe environment for women to come together to discuss female-specific concerns, strengthen peer-to-peer bonds, engrain professional ethics, enhance professional growth and empower young women to be successful senior leaders,” according to Lt. Col. Maricela Alvarado, G3/5/7, USAICoE.
Originally, the intent was to hold this meeting, and then hold a meeting for Brothers in Arms in April. In May, the groups would join together and discuss issues and concerns that were brought up at the prior gatherings. But to many people’s surprise, men made up a large portion of the audience.
Alvarado explained that she felt at least one meeting needed to be held to determine where Fort Huachuca was in terms of resiliency among the leadership and junior ranking Soldiers. The recent session proved the community is on the right track.
“Based on the meeting that occurred on Friday, I think that we as an organization here at Fort Huachuca are probably ready to move on to the Sisters and Brothers in Arms collectively,” Alvarado explained. “I think our plan will be to move straight into the Sisters and Brothers in Arms program in May. The reason we will wait until May is so that we can really establish how we want to go forward with a joint group and hold those [from here on out].”
Bringing males and females together allows each gender to speak about concerns they may have in the workplace. By talking about these concerns among each other, they can potentially be alleviated, thus resulting in a reduction of stress in the organization.
“The less stress in the work environment, the better we will be able to deal with whatever comes our way,” said Alvarado. “That’s what I am hoping for — the reduction of stress, working jointly, being accepted. All of that gives us confidence to address any challenges.”
Currently, these meetings will be held every other month.
Dr. Dorothy Bonvillain, a specialist in transformational leadership, personal growth, development and cross-cultural competence, was the guest speaker. She spoke about leadership as well as her specialty topics.
Speaking about the goals, vision and purpose in one’s life, Bonvillain said, “Once you’ve discovered your ‘why’ … it has to align with your core values. If it doesn’t align with your core values, you can possibly do it for a while but you are going to reach a point where you can’t sustain it.”
After Bonvillain’s speech, attendees gathered in groups to discuss their concerns regarding resiliency in the military and different methods for success. Each group had two facilitators — one military member and one Civilian. Topics included the most ideal time to have a child during a military career, how to respond to pushback as a female in a leadership role, and how to blend within an organization staffed primarily with males.
With standing room only, the event resulted in a great turnout, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Brenda Kadet, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command and group meeting facilitator. “I think that focus groups that include both senior and junior service members promote the crosstalk among the ranks,” she said.
Another facilitator, Angela Camera, Fort Huachuca public affairs officer, said, “The sharing of ideas and concerns by the members of our small group was an important part of setting the groundwork for the Sisters in Arms program to continue to develop and grow at Fort Huachuca. I look forward to being a part of this program as it really begins to take off.”
For more information regarding the Sisters and Brothers in Arms Mentorship Program, contact Alvarado or 1st Lt. Jessica Howell, 533.8877. With a Common Access Card, more information can be found at https://ikn.army.mil/apps/IKNWMS/Default.aspx?webId=2454.