Less than three months after taking over at Joint Base Myer- Henderson Hall, Col. Fern O. Sumpter is putting a stamp on her command with an unusual choice as the new senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) to help oversee one of the closest military bases to the nation’s capital.

In an Oct. 4 ceremony Command Sgt. Maj. Earlene Y. Lavender assumed responsibility as command sergeant major, putting Black women at the top of the chain of command for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH).

“In the short amount of time of getting to know her, I am excited about what we are about to do, the heights we will take this garrison to, and the partnerships we will develop and foster together,” Sumpter said during the event which featured a ritual that included transferring the NCO sword from the departing command sergeant –major to the incoming top NCO.

The command sergeant major serves as the senior soldier on the base and acts as a senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer.

Sumpter assumed command of the joint Army-Marine post in July. As a new commander at the base, however, Sumpter is taking a traditional approach to the new responsibility, opening the base to activities that do not mark an unusual endeavor on a military base.

On Sept. 26, for instance, the base hosted a visit of several busloads of young burn victims who toured the base and received coin momentos from Sumpter.

At a personal level, Sumpter is emphatic about the need for balance in her life and the lives of the personnel she commands. When it comes to “family versus work…the home team has to be equally engaged in the decision making process,” she told the AFRO recently.