Calling it "another major milestone in Army history," Garrrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli officially welcomed the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion last week as the newest tenant on Redstone Arsenal.

The battalion, and its 25 Soldier and civilian employees now located in its $1.7 million, 5,000-square-foot headquarters facility on Honest John Road, were recognized as a "the best of the best" during a March 25 ribbon cutting ceremony. The event began with comments by military leaders in Pagano Gym due to inclement weather and then moved to the front of the building during a break in the rain for the actual ribbon cutting.

The new red-brick facility represents a major upgrade from the battalion's previous headquarters at Fort Gillem, Ga.

"We were in the last World War I and World War II era barracks on Fort Gillem," said Lt. Col. Walt Stanish, the battalion's commander.

"When the wind blew hard, dust would come up through the floor."

But the modern headquarters is more than a facility upgrade. It also represents another move toward the goal to bring all the 2005 base realignment and closure commission recommendations for Redstone Arsenal on post by 2011. It represents the modernization of the Army, and the growing synergy of headquarters and facilities that are continuing to transform Redstone Arsenal into a major command center for the Army.

"We actually have enough room now for all of our personnel," Stanish said. "We are now centrally located within the battalion footprint. We go as far west as Jackson, Miss., as far north as Louisville, Ky., as far east as North Carolina and as far south as Puerto Rico.

"We also can share resources now with our neighbor, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade. It's always good to have an extra conference room. Their staff mirrors my staff. They're just bigger. It works in our benefit to be co-located."

The 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion - along with the 2nd Recruiting Brigade -- is a component of the Army Recruiting Command and carries out one-fifth of the Army's medical recruiting mission. The battalion manages 19 subsidiary units with 115 recruiting personnel located in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"We are responsible for recruiting healthcare professionals throughout the Southeast and Puerto Rico," Stanish told an audience of military and civilians at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The battalion has achieved success in its mission to recruit medical professionals to serve on the front lines and at posts around the world.

"We've already completed 59 percent of our mission for the year and we are still in the second quarter," Stanish said.

Col. Hubert Bagley, chief of staff for the Army Recruiting Command, reiterated Stanish's words of success during the ceremony.

"Of the five battalions, this is the top battalion in the medical recruiting brigade," he said. "It also has the top five of 15 companies in the medical recruiting brigade and the top recruiting station in the brigade. I think you will be pleased with your new tenant.

"This battalion is happy to be part of this installation and will make a good member of your team."

Calling March 25 a special day, Redstone Arsenal and Aviation and Missile Command commander Maj. Gen. Jim Myles said Redstone Arsenal is proud to add the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion to its list of tenants.

"The recruiting mission is so critical to us. You are finding the right U.S. civilian to become an Army Soldier," he said. "You're telling the full story about what this Army is all about and why we do what we do. The hardest area to recruit is the medical profession, and you are the best of the best. We're committed to you in any way possible."

Myles used the ribbon cutting ceremony to especially thank the Garrison and its leader, Pastorelli, for the "superb leadership to make BRAC happen. It all starts with bricks and mortar done on time and to standard."

It's an honor, Pastorelli said, to be the home of a medical recruiting battalion whose mission success "makes the Army stronger every day."

He said Redstone Arsenal personnel worked hard to make sure the Arsenal's newest tenant was happy with its new home.

"A lot of heavy lifting was accomplished for today and I am sure you'll agree it was worth it," he said.

The facility, built by Engineering Design Technologies, opened about four months behind schedule due to weather delays. But Stanish said the wait has been worth it.

"I want to thank Team Redstone. Our transition has been seamless," he said. "We look forward to being a team leader at Redstone Arsenal and in this great community."

In his comments, Myles also recognized T.C. Freeman, a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, as a special guest at the ribbon cutting ceremony. She is the wife of Vietnam aviator veteran and retired Col. Bob Freeman, and the mother of two sons who have both served in the Persian Gulf and a daughter who, along with her retired sergeant major husband, is now serving as a DoD civilian in Iraq. Freeman is well-known for the motherly love and devotion she has shown Soldiers in all the years she has been part of the Army family.

"You make a difference in Soldiers' lives in some ways that people in uniform could never do ... In the way you take care of Soldiers and families you have always lived from the front. I consider you a national treasure," Myles said.

Later, Freeman tried to refocus her sudden fame at the ceremony back on the Soldier.

Her volunteer work in support of Soldiers is "all about them and how it makes them feel. It's about the smile on their face. It's nice to be able to put a mother's arms around them," Freeman said. "When you see a few or many sometimes who don't have anybody that speaks to your heart. I've had many mothers call me and say 'I can't be there. Will you find my son and give him a hug for me'' And I will do it."

Freeman shared her enthusiasm and love for Soldiers at the ceremony and at the concluding reception. Although she lives in Kentucky, she knew many of the Soldiers at the event.

"The older you get the smaller the Army gets," she said.

The success of the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion is recognized throughout the Army, Freeman said, a theme that was repeated often during the March 25 event.

"Medical recruiting is vital to the Army," she said. "This brigade is doing well. But so many others are not."

Stanish and his battalion are committed to maintaining their recruiting success. Although he loves his new office and battalion headquarters, Stanish doesn't plan on spending a lot of time behind his new desk.

"If you don't see me at Redstone Arsenal very often it means I'm out at recruiting stations doing what I'm supposed to be doing in support of the medical recruiting brigade and the Army," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16