State command sergeant major visits troops in the field

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

SCSM @ Atterbury

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley speaks with Soldiers of the 103rd Chemical Battalion during a training exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., June 18, 2014. As the state command sergeant major, Chumley said it is his job to get out to see the troops and check on their well-being. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Rients)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Kentucky Guardsmen went about their usual routines during annual training periods this spring and summer in a variety of places. Soldiers and units use this time to ensure they are up to the task of doing their specific job.

For State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley, it is also an opportunity to ensure those Soldiers are doing the right thing and are being taken care of by the Kentucky National Guard.

Visiting Soldiers during annual training and any other training event gives me the opportunity to talk to and observe Soldiers at their best and address any issue they may have,” he said.  “It is also to let them know the senior leadership is proud of what they are doing, and appreciate the sacrifices they and their families make.”

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State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley coins Spc. Hoskins with the 1149th Forward Support Company at Camp Atterbury, Ind., July 16, 2014. Chumley asked units to point out Soldiers that were excelling within their units for recognition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Chumley said there were times in the past that Soldiers never saw their command sergeant major or even knew who he or she was. He refuse to go back to that time, because put simply, it’s his job. As the Kentucky Army Guard’s top enlisted advisor to the adjutant general, that job is an important one for the nearly 6,000 enlisted Soldiers serving in the commonwealth.

“I am their eyes and ears in Frankfort, I represent them to the leadership of this organization, and I cannot do it without getting out here and talking to them.”

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Annual training periods provide the ideal chance for command visits and Chumley visits as many as the schedule allows. From Kentucky’s Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center to Camp Atterbury, the 42-year military Veteran is out asking what the Soldiers think of the food, if they are up to date on their training requirements and if they take advantage of the benefits available to them. He said it is his chance to find ways to improve the Kentucky Army National Guard.

The visits are well received as Soldiers gather to visit with Chumley, meet a member of the command staff and share their feelings about training and the Kentucky Guard..

“I think its great that the sergeant major comes out to see us, check on us and show that he cares,” said Pfc. Lawless with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry. “It tells us leadership just doesn’t sit at a desk somewhere, they come out here and learn from us like we’re supposed to learn from them. It shows good leadership and I appreciate that.”

Chumley often asks how many of the Soldiers would consider giving more than 40 years to their country. Not that he expects very many to raise their hands, he knows he’s talking to a future command sergeant major and the future of the Kentucky Guard.

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State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley speaks to Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry during annual training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., July 16, 2014. During his visit, Chumley spoke to as many Soldiers as possible to thank them for their dedication and hard work. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“One of the things I like most about coming out here is that I get to tell them how proud I am of them and thank them for what they do. Every time I get around these young Soldiers it reenergizes me and reminds me that I am here for them, and because of them.”

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