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A Command Climate Survey at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) began March 6.

“The survey I am asking you to complete gives you the opportunity to provide opinions on where I should focus attention to improve the human relations climate of our organization,” said WRNMMC Director Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jeffrey B. Clark.

“This voluntary survey is designed to assess the shared perceptions of respondents about formal or informal policies and practices,” Clark continued. “Your perceptions are valuable because they give me insight into the general attitudinal climate of our organization. For your answers to be useful, you must be honest. Do not tell me what you think I want to hear, or say what others might say; tell it as you see it.”

Navy Capt. Sarah Martin, WRNMMC chief of staff, discussed the importance of the survey during the kick-off. “[The survey allows us] to get a feel on how we are doing,” said Martin. “We have a lot of change going on, [and the survey] will let us know how we are affecting our folks. Also, [the survey will let us know] how we are doing when it comes to morale and equal opportunity. This is an opportunity for people to let us know anonymously.”

Martin also thanked the Command Assessment Team (CAT) in coordinating and ensuring all staff members have the opportunity to participate in the survey. “Please understand how important it is, what you are doing, in trying to get our folks [involved]. The data we get is going to be very important in the direction [we take] as Brig. Gen. Clark moves forward,” she added.

The survey runs through March 24 and can be completed at any workspace computer via the Internet, explained Lt. Cmdr. Pandora Liptrot, Command Management Equal Opportunity (CMEO) officer.

Liptrot explained the CAT is responsible for disseminating information about the survey and evaluating the command climate. She describes the team as a “group of highly-motivated military and civilian members who are the sounding board,” within the command, who work closely with the Equal Opportunity (EO) office to assess morale and quality of life on base.

“They take the pulse of the environment, so they are out there as feelers, listening and bringing us feedback about situations and things we may need to be taking a closer look at in regards to our processes,” added Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Shawnta Sampson, assistant CMEO for Walter Reed Bethesda.

To access the command climate survey, Liptrot explained each directorate’s EO representative will provide their members single-use passwords to gain entry to the website.

Although confidential and anonymous, the survey will ask participants to provide demographic information such as rank, race and sex to ensure there is a proper representation of participants, Liptrot explained. On the survey, questions will focus on staff concerns, morale, job satisfaction and quality of life at Walter Reed Bethesda.

“We will collect and analyze the data, and establish focus groups,” Sampson added. “Once we get all the information, we will take it to the WRNMMC director and his board with suggestions and recommendations based off of the data we collect.”

“We take the top three areas mentioned throughout the survey or in the focus groups,” Liptrot continued. “We do plans of actions and take milestones to make sure we have a good command climate.”

She said in order for the command climate to improve, people must participate in the survey. “This is one avenue we can use to find out what is going on and the major issues that may need to be addressed,” the lieutenant commander added.

Last year’s command climate survey, along with information garnered from town halls, senior enlisted leadership calls and directorate calls, proved useful in making change, Liptrot said. “We’ve seen some positive action as a result [of those avenues], such as [improving] communication and establishing joint policies.”

As a result of past command climate surveys, and staff calling for better communication, Sampson said there have been more town halls, senior enlisted leadership calls, command master chief calls and other training forums at Walter Reed Bethesda.

The first command climate survey at Walter Reed Bethesda was done soon after the integration of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center to form WRNMMC. There were many positive responses, Liptrot explained. The second climate survey was done last year during the sequestration, furloughs and changes in parking policies. She added from this year’s survey, leadership hopes to get “a lot more information and truths from people. We’ve been here three years now and are thriving.”

Nearly 7,000 surveys were ordered for staff so military members, civilians and contractors can participate. “It’s [providing] awareness,” Liptrot added. “If you have issues you want to address, this is another avenue, just like being at the town halls and asking questions.

“We just want people to take the survey,” she continued. “We want to convey these surveys are important, and that people look at them as this is how change comes about. Sometimes change is slow, but we have made some steps as a result.”

For more information about the survey, call Lt. Cmdr. Pandora Liptrot at 301-295-2178.