FORT POLK, La. –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, has a new senior enlisted advisor following a 10 a.m. change of responsibility ceremony on Spike Field at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana Sept. 9.
The outgoing, Command Sgt. Maj. Alexander Poutou, relinquished his responsibilities to Command Sgt. Maj. Shavonda Devereaux, in front of military leaders, the BJACH team, local network partners, family and friends.
The change of responsibility is rich in symbolism and tradition. The passing of the unit colors is the key to the ceremony. The colors represent the lineage and honors of the unit but also the loyalty and unity of its Soldiers. The unit’s command sergeant major is the custodian of the colors and is the senior enlisted member of the unit and principal advisor to the commander.
During the ceremony Poutou passed the unit colors to Col. Aristotle Vaseliades, BJACH commander, indicative of relinquishing his responsibilities. Vaseliades then passed the colors to Devereaux placing his trust and confidence in her as the command sergeant major of the unit.
Vaseliades said he was deployed twice with Poutou in the past and marveled at his accomplishments despite the adversity he faced during his tenure as the BJACH command sergeant major.
“What do you call it in the military, when a leader who has faced, engaged and dealt with challenges such as a tornado, two hurricanes, a seldom seen ice storm, a global pandemic, The Joint Commission and College of American Pathology surveys, all while serving with three different commanders,” he asked. “A champion! A champion for a cause, a champion for a team and most importantly a champion for people. Command Sgt. Maj. Poutou is a champion.”
Vaseliades went on to say that Poutou is a visible, compassionate and inspirational leader who treats everyone with dignity and respect.
“He builds a fire in you to be the best leader you can be. He is a team builder and has created an environment for others to do the same,” he said. “He is a champion for the BJACH team and the Fort Polk community.”
Vaseliades recited an extensive list of Poutou’s accomplishments during his address.
“He is a champion for our Army and our country,” he said. “He continually drives home the idea that it is a privilege and an honor to wear this uniform. His impact on this organization has been phenomenal.”
Vaseliades officially welcomed Devereaux and her family to BJACH.
“You are joining a team at BJACH that will bend over backwards to support the people of this community,” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind that you will continue to improve our fox hole and make us not just the standard bearer for our region but all of Army Medicine.”
Poutou said it has been his privilege to serve as the hospital command sergeant major for the past 29 months.
“I will miss Fort Polk, especially my BJACH team. I wish you all the best,” he said. “I will be watching from afar as you continue to strive for excellence under the leadership of Col. Vaseliades and Command Sgt. Maj. Devereaux.”
Poutou acknowledged Devereaux and said she was the right leader at the right time for BJACH. He thanked his colleagues, family and friends. Poutou gave all the accolades to those around him for his success.
“An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed roles or assigned responsibilities inspires and influences people to accomplish organization goals. Army Leaders motivate people both in and outside of the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization,” he said. “You all motivate me every single day, from the time I walk through the door until I depart for the evening.”
Devereaux said she began her military career 21 years ago at BJACH and she never imagined that one day she would be serving in her current role.
“To whom much is given, much is required. There are so many great leaders who have stood before me in this very position,” she said. "To the Soldiers of this great organization, you can expect me to be a leader of character, a leader who is fully committed to the mission and the team and someone who will serve as a guide, mentor and inspiration.”
Following her brief remarks, Devereaux took over the formation and was directed to take charge of her unit.