Va. Guard G-4’s tailor-made solution helps Soldiers

Va. Guard Soldiers from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat team try on the Army Service Uniform for alterations Jan. 10, 2015, at the Virginia National Guard's Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. More than 600 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force as well as U. S. Army Reserve Soldiers conducted a variety of training and administrative activities during the busy drill weekend. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Va. Guard Soldiers from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat team try on the Army Service Uniform for alterations Jan. 10, 2015, at the Virginia National Guard’s Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. More than 600 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force as well as U. S. Army Reserve Soldiers conducted a variety of training and administrative activities during the busy drill weekend. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va – The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Army National Guard Directorate of Logistics, or G-4, continued executing a contract over $200,000 dollars, over 20 different locations Jan. 10, 2015, designed to provide Soldiers with a form fitted, professional dress uniform.

The U.S. Army began replacing the green service uniform with the blue Army Service Uniform in Aug. 2008. The “bridging” strategy was to slowly transition to the new uniform over the course of six years. According to Army regulations, the wear out date of the green uniform was July 2014.

“A properly fitted uniform is as much a part of a Soldiers appearance as keeping physically fit,” said Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Carl A. Holcomb, Command Sergeant Major, Virginia Army National Guard. “When a Soldier dons the uniform they should take pride in it, because of what it represents. This means they should exhibit the proper appearance and Military bearing at all times.”

The new ASU coat is made of wrinkle-resistant material and has an “athletic cut” that requires adjustment to the sleeve and jacket length, rotating the jacket sleeve and opening up or bringing in the torso. The trousers require general tapering and hemming.

Active duty Soldiers received an increase in their annual uniform allowance to help offset the cost of the uniform. Due to existing regulation, Army National Guard Soldiers do not receive uniform allowances outside of their initial entry training. The entire cost of the alterations fell on units.

“Instead of each unit going out and making individual arrangements to get Soldiers’ uniforms altered, it made more sense just to get one contract and get the whole state done all at once,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Renate Long, special projects officer, G-4, Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia. “It would be fiscally responsible and it would help the units save valuable training time.”

The process to have each unit contract a local vendor for each Soldier would have taken a lot of time away from the day-to-day activities, explained Long.

“Supply sergeants are very busy and don’t necessarily have time to file the required authorizations for every Soldier that needs to have his or her uniform altered,” said Long. “Plus each local vendor might charge a different price for services and since a majority of our Soldiers aren’t local to their assigned duty location, it would mean that either Soldiers or the supply sergeant would have to travel quite a distance—which costs time and money.”

“The way we set this contract up is quite unique,” Long said. “Soldiers come to drill weekend, the vendor is already there, the Soldier spends five minutes putting on their uniforms, the vendor takes the measurements, then the vendor takes the uniform back to their shop, makes the alterations, then returns the completed uniform back to the Soldier the following drill weekend.”

“It’s minimal impact to training,” said Long. “The vendor is usually there three or four hours in the morning and Soldiers can hop in and get measured within five minutes and get back to training.”

Long and others assigned to the G-4 created a series of property controls to ensure security and accountability of each article of clothing. Since, Soldiers are accountable for the uniform, this system allows Soldiers to receive a receipt from the vendor with contact information, a list of all the planned alterations, as well as the anticipated return date. Soldiers can take that receipt to their unit supply sergeant, who then annotates the transaction in a ledger. This ledger is an official source document that voids any liability that the Soldier would have, if the uniforms are damaged or lost.

“We were excited to be able to fund alterations to the Army Service Uniform for Soldiers and noncommissioned officers that were issued ASUs in 2013 and 2014,” said Lt. Col. Michael Swanson, director of logistics, JFHQ-VA. “Thanks to the efforts of the [United States Property and Fiscal Office] acquisition branch, a contract was established to provide sewing vendors around the Commonwealth to support Soldiers during their regularly scheduled drill weekends.”

Other changes to the uniform that require alterations include overseas service bars and service stripes authorized on the jacket sleeve. Officers and Soldiers in the grade of corporal and above are authorized to wear a gold braid on their slacks to indicate leadership roles.

“By regulation, Soldiers are still required to pay for their service bars and stripes and rank insignia to be sewn on,” explained Long. “We can only contract for the fit of the uniform, none of the accoutrements.”

If Soldiers have their sew-on rank or service bars and stripes, the vendor is able to complete those additions for an additional fee.

A representative from the G-4 is present at each location to interact and provide resources to the vendor and the supported unit, explained Long.

Senior Army Leaders pulsed the force for more than two years regarding the ASU and incorporated Soldiers’ feedback to make final refinements for this versatile uniform that better reflects and honors today’s Soldiers. By adopting the ASU, the Army consolidates its uniforms for ease of wear, care and simplified uniform options for Soldiers.

“I am pleased that the [Directorate of Logistics] has supported our troops, by not only ensuring they received their [Army Service Uniforms] by the designated wear out date of the Class A, but they have also contracted to have the uniforms properly tailored. This has helped our Soldiers maintain uniform standards and increased esprit de corps among the ranks as well,” Holcomb said.

The contract will continue until spring of 2015. All other adjustments or further alterations will be completed as individual purchase requests at the unit-level.

“The true success of the alterations is that this contract allowed for Soldiers in rural areas not to have to drive long distances to a military installation to take care of their uniform needs and it also provided Soldiers and noncommissioned officers with properly fitting uniforms for their promotion and retention boards,” Swanson said.

“This should be easy for the Soldier,” Long said. “They shouldn’t have to go some place to get measured, leave their uniform , then go back and try it back on, send it back for a second round of adjustments, then go back again. It’s just too much to ask a Soldier to do.”

Va. Guard Soldiers from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat team try on the Army Service Uniform for alterations Jan. 10, 2015, at the Virginia National Guard's Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. More than 600 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force as well as U. S. Army Reserve Soldiers conducted a variety of training and administrative activities during the busy drill weekend. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Va. Guard Soldiers from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat team try on the Army Service Uniform for alterations Jan. 10, 2015, at the Virginia National Guard’s Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. More than 600 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force as well as U. S. Army Reserve Soldiers conducted a variety of training and administrative activities during the busy drill weekend. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

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