FORT JOHNSON, La. –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, has a new senior enlisted advisor following a 10 a.m. change of responsibility ceremony, Oct. 5, in the Bayou Theater at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Johnson, Louisiana.
The outgoing, Command Sgt. Maj. Shavonda Devereaux, relinquished her responsibilities to Command Sgt. Maj. Larry D. White II, 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 Devereaux passed the unit colors to Col. Alisa Wilma, BJACH commander, indicative of relinquishing her responsibilities. Wilma then passed the colors to White placing her trust and confidence in him as the command sergeant major of the unit.
Wilma said the hospital command sergeant major is a unique position with no civilian counterpart in network hospital systems.
“Each Soldier in our hospital must be ready, able to shoot, move and communicate,” she said. “Our Soldiers must be competent in their medical tasks basic Soldier skills. They must see enough patients daily and weekly to be instinctive on the execution of their duties, not just in the hospital but in stressful, austere, and hostile environments.”
Wilma said the hospital command sergeant major makes it happen; ensuring Soldiers maintain their technical and tactical proficiency, providing mentorship and guidance, balancing work, family, professional development, and more.
“The logical explanation is that there isn’t enough time in the day, or the year, yet the hospital command sergeant major just smiles and does it,” she said.
Wilma compared herself to the fictional character Ted Lasso and Devereaux to Lasso’s assistant, Coach Beard.
“While Ted Lasso has big ideas, Beard stands next to him on the field with the players, head in the books, knowing the rules and the regulations. Ted Lasso walks in with a pithy comment, a good story or a shoulder to cry on, but Coach Beard makes it happen,” she said. “Thank you Command Sgt. Major Devereaux for being my Coach Beard.”
Wilma said the commanders often have no say in who their battle buddy or command sergeant major is.
“We get who we get. We’re professionals, we’re good at what we do, we wouldn’t be there if we weren’t and we make it work,” she said. “Sometimes you get lucky, and you get more than just professional, you get extraordinary. I knew I was lucky with Command Sgt. Maj. Devereaux; she is extraordinary.”
Wilma told White she felt like she won the lottery twice.
“Command Sgt. Maj. White, your professionalism, sense of humor, pragmatism, dedication to the mission, your joy in the Soldiers, it all shines through,” she said. “I am excited to be spending the next several years with you.”
Devereaux spoke from her heart regarding her tenure at BJACH.
“I descended upon Fort Johnson 25 months ago, and prior to that 23 years ago,” she said. “I was born into this lifestyle as a military brat, which has had a big impact on who I am today.”
Devereaux said it was for a greater purpose she returned to Fort Johnson.
“I wanted to impact and provide quintessential leadership to the Soldiers and civilian employees at BJACH,” she said. “The Soldiers in this organization remind me so much of myself, they are young and curious just like I was. That curiosity placed me in many challenging positions. I challenge my Soldiers daily to be curious and to become an expert in their craft.”
Devereaux said the byproduct of continually doing the routine things routinely resulted in BJACH’s recognition as the top military medical treatment facility out of 11 others in our region.
“In the past 24 months we had a 16 percent increase in expert field medical badge holders, our very own BJACH noncommissioned officer won the Department of the Army NCO of the Year, we’ve had Soldiers several win best squad competitions, and our higher headquarters chose us to host the Army Best Medic Competition earlier this year,” she said. “We set the standard and are now the blueprint for all future competitions.”
Devereaux said she lives by the saying to whom much is given, much will be required.”
“I wake up each day and ask for the wisdom to lead our most precious resource, our Soldiers,” she said. “I ask for guidance to make the right decisions at the right time and to be the voice the Soldiers need.”
Devereaux said she was committed to serve as the BJACH commander’s most trusted advisor and confidant.
“Col. Wilma, trust your gut and listen to your command sergeant major,” she said. “Command Sgt. Major White you have a great team, I wish you and your family the best of luck. Have fun.”
White assured Wilma that nothing will change as he assumes responsibility as her senior enlisted advisor.
“Col. Wilma, I look forward to being your new battle buddy,” he said. “I may be a little taller, huskier, and balder than Command Sgt. Maj. Devereaux, but I will continue to take care of our Soldiers, ensure we remain the superstars of Medical Readiness Command, West and continue to provide top notch care to our beneficiaries and the warfighters who live and work in the Fort Johnson community.”
White expressed his honor to serve as the new command sergeant major at BJACH.
“I look forward to this adventure with you,” he said. “This has been a long time coming for me, and while it’s often said to be careful what you pray for, I know God doesn’t make mistakes so let’s go get it. BJACH 7 signing on.”