214th Fires Brigade Soldiers vist, learn from vets
October 10, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 214th Fires Brigade volunteered their day Oct. 4 visiting the residents of the Lawton/Fort Sill Veterans Center in Lawton.
The group of resident veterans included members from all five branches of the armed forces who served in all major U.S. military campaigns from World War II to current operations with ages ranging from 30 to 100 years old.
As for their active-duty comrades, many told the veterans what an honor it was to meet them and compare their Army experiences.
About 40 Soldiers, in the ranks of private to captain, wore their dress blue Army service uniforms and brought a degree of excitement to the facility.
The purpose of the visit was to recognize and honor local veterans for their years of dedicated service.
Soldiers listened to war stories, played games and spoke about military life throughout the day, giving the Soldiers a chance to spend time with those who served before them.
"Ron, a resident at the center kept advising me to stay in the Army and to remain focused on everything I do," said Pfc. Sabrina Hill, a signal support system specialist.
Veterans laughed, joked and shared their military experiences, engaging more than usual due to the Soldiers presence.
Jesse Armstrong, an Army veteran, said it is great to have Soldiers come over to visit and interact with the vets because the Soldiers can find out things from them and the vets can find out new things from the active duty Soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Larson, an intelligence analyst, said this was his first time interacting with veterans and it allowed him to examine how the military has transitioned over the years.
"It was really nice to go out to the center and see how happy the veterans were," Larson said. "Just being able to see how much enjoyment they got out of us coming and talking to them gave me an excellent feeling."
Pamela Windover, a recreation specialist, said the visits from Soldiers are beneficial to the residents at the center as it gives them someone to talk to who really understands their experiences in the military.
"The veterans love it when the Soldiers come and visit them, especially in uniform," Windover said. "It is also beneficial because the veterans get to hear what is going on in today's Army and they also get to tell their stories."
As for the Soldiers, the get-together reinforced the notion about what it means to serve their country.
Hill said the visit opened her eyes to see how the Army has changed over the years. She discussed how she has heard a lot about how the Army has changed but did not realize it until today when sitting and talking with the veterans.
"The Soldiers that came today and visited with us were well dressed and looked sharp in their uniforms," said William Hess, an Army veteran. "The advice I would have for today's Soldiers is to tell them to stick with it, keep working at it and do your duty. That is what's going to make you a good Soldier."
"It was a great day and I had a blast," Larson said. "My Soldiers and I are looking forward to volunteering at the center again after visiting with the veterans today."
The two groups said their good-byes and parted ways at the end of the day. Even though it was a short visit, it will have a lasting effect on all those who participated. The event was a resounding success for both the veterans and the Soldiers of the Hellhound battery, said David Zerzycki, HHB commander.
The center offers veterans food, medical care, a pharmacy, a clothing room and activities on and off site.
The residents' can leave whenever they want to, said Windover. She said the center offers many activities, such as bingo, bowling, movies, dining out and even going to Oklahoma City to catch a ball game.