Armed Forces News

As seen through a night-vision device, US Army Soldiers, members of a Chinook helicopter crew, receive a flight briefing on Falcon Base, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2010. 

Army leaders need to move beyond the “All I see is green” notion when they look after their soldiers, the service’s senior most non-commissioned officer has said. “Somebody said to me one time about a year ago, ‘When you say that to me, you’re not acknowledging when I take the uniform off, I will be treated differently,’” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston told an audience earlier this month at the Association of the U.S. Army’s (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington. “As a leader, I wasn’t even acknowledging that this person would be struggling when they drive out the gate or that somebody wouldn’t serve them at a restaurant or whatever would happen.”

Grinston’s comments appeared in a story published by AUSA on the association’s web site.

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While discipline and standards are inherent to Army life, Grinston told his audience that good leadership means recognizing that “other things” need to be recognized. He specifically noted the racial unrest that took place last year – a topic that in the past would have been squelched and ignored. Though open discussions about such a subject would likely be difficult, he said that they should not be ignored.

Grinston also addressed the increase in suicides among the ranks, specifically mentioning a conversation he had with the mother of a soldier who had killed himself only days earlier. She had been trying unsuccessfully to reach her son but could not. When she then tried to reach someone within his unit, she was unsuccessful.

“What that instantly says to me is, are you actually building a cohesive team? Why didn’t the mother have the unit’s number?” Grinston asked.

“We’ve got to check on our soldiers,” Grinston said. “If you don’t have time to do those things, you may end up being consumed with very bad things. Do it before you lose someone in your organization.”