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Soldiers take questions to the Army boss on Facebook

Sep. 25, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno answered soldiers' questions online Sept. 24.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno answered soldiers' questions online Sept. 24. ()
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Soldiers asked the Army’s top boss about the threat to their pay in the face of sequestration and a possible government shutdown during Gen. Ray Odierno’s first virtual town hall meeting on Facebook on Tuesday.

The Army chief of staff took questions from soldiers on Facebook for about an hour, the first time he has opened such a forum.

He said soldiers would “be required to work” even if their pay is delayed in the event of a government shutdown.

Odierno also answered questions about the Army drawdown, saying “difficult choices” must be made.

“Sir, when can we expect to know if (or) when sequestration will trigger the additional personnel reductions?” asked Facebook user Jason Anthony Crowe.

“If full sequestration is implemented, there’s a good chance that the Army Component might have to go as low 420K,” Odierno answered.

In recent weeks, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also said the Army may go down to 420,000 to 450,000 because of sequestration.

“We are proposing that we take 26 percent end strength cut in the (Active Component), 12 percent in the (National Guard) and 9 percent in the (Reserve),” Odierno said during the Facebook town hall.

'TOUGH QUESTIONS'

Several Facebook users asked about the stigma still prevalent for soldiers who seek help for mental health, especially after it was reported the Washington Navy Yard shooter was a veteran with mental health issues.

“Sir, how are you going to stop the recent Navy Yard incident from scaring off people from getting mental health counseling? The talk in the media is all about how clearances should be yanked if there are issues,” Facebook user Sandy Thompson asked.

Odierno said he was working with the people involved.

“This is a very difficult issue. We want to have a policy that encourages everyone to come forward to seek assistance,” he said.

Odierno answered more than 20 questions during the Facebook town hall meeting.

Also taking part in the town hall meeting were: director of the Army staff, Lt. Gen. Bill Grisoli; the Army G1, Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg; the director of operations for installation management, Maj. Gen. Al Aycock; and the deputy commanding general for support, from the Office of the Surgeon General, Brig. Gen. John Cho.

“I appreciate all of the tough questions and having such a wide variety of people participate,” Odierno posted on Facebook.

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