<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b> -- Barracks life for single Soldiers has changed considerably over the last 50 years.

Gone are the World War II-era, open-bay barracks that housed a platoon of Soldiers who shared latrine, shower and laundry facilities, no kitchen or electrical appliances allowed. Personal privacy was not possible.

These old wooden barracks were replaced with brick or concrete barracks in the '70s - with four Soldiers to a bedroom.

By the '90s, these were two-man bedrooms. Even then, eight or more Soldiers shared latrine and shower facilities, no kitchen, though coffee pots and microwaves were starting to get the Fire Marshall's approval.

For the most part, single Soldiers today live in apartment complexes surrounded by flower gardens and decorative duck ponds filled with cattails and water lilies - and only one Soldier to a bedroom that includes a walk-in closet and cable TV.

Only two Soldiers share latrine, shower, laundry and kitchen facilities - more personal privacy than most college dorms.

Spc. Myles Chapin and Spc. Raphael Karan, both scouts with 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment are more like neighbors than roommates. Though they share the above amenities, they're able to enjoy a degree of privacy single Soldiers never dreamed of 40 years ago. Both Soldiers just returned from a 15-month deployment to some of Fort Stewart's newest barracks, the 3000-block barracks located behind the Central Issue Facility.

"Compared to living in Iraq, living here is awesome," Chapin chuckled as he spread out his arms to showcase his new home. "The only thing missing is my (civilian clothes), which are still in storage."

Chapin, whose hometown is Columbia, Ohio, said his new accommodations are better than the barracks he left before his deployment, but that even those billets were more than suitable to him, except that he had to share his room with another Soldier.
"I'm still trying to get used to having running water and sleeping in a comfortable bed," said Karan, Chapin's former roommate now neighbor. "(Back here), Soldiers really value having alone time again."

Karan, who calls Glendale, Wis. home, seemed to be coping well enough in his new surroundings as he surfed the net on his laptop. His large, flat screen TV next to the bed seemed to be beckoning him to play a game, catch up on the news or watch a movie. Besides personal items, a twin-size bed, nightstand, entertainment stand and bookcase/computer desk furnished both rooms. The small kitchen included a sink, refrigerator and stove, dinette table with chairs, plus a washer/drying, and, of course, bathroom with shower.

Spc. Candis Pack, an all-wheel vehicle mechanic assigned to the Warriors in Transition Battalion's barracks, located near Taylors Creek golf course, enjoys her single room with kitchen and bathroom facilities but says she's almost too busy to spend much time in her room. Her assignment with the WTU allows her injuries time to heal, time she's using this summer to take four college classes.

Pack also takes advantage of various competitive sports and other athletic opportunities offered at Fort Stewart, including golf, bowling and swimming. She especially enjoys riding her Honda 600 and praises the installation's motorcycle safety course as a great idea, especially as a refresher for Soldiers returning from deployment.

"Everybody has to find their own circuit to mellow down," said Pack, who was selected as the WTU Soldier of the Month for July. "I always have a lot going on."

Many of the billeting improvements at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are the result of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, which started nearly 20 years ago with a goal to improve the quality of life for single Soldiers. This program received a booster shot last November with the signing of the Army Family Covenant, which seeks to improve the quality of life for Army Families and Soldiers, including single Soldiers.

Together, the BOSS program and Army Family Covenant have been responsible for a lot of new construction and renovation on installations all over the country, for not only barracks but also physical fitness centers, golf courses, tennis courts, fishing ponds and clubs like Rocky's, which provide single Soldiers with fun, challenging and entertaining things to do on post, much of which within walking distance of home - the barracks.

Page last updated Wed July 23rd, 2008 at 19:10