FORT HOOD, Texas - Developing community partnerships is an important part to being an integral part of a vibrant community here in Central Texas, and being deployed to Iraq doesn't change the importance of harboring good community partnerships.

Celebrate Killeen Committee of Killeen Volunteers, Inc., Copperas Cove High School, 1st Cavalry Association, and the Iraqi Security Forces have each formed a unique partnership with the Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

The purpose of these partnerships is to develop and reinforce ties between military and civilian communities by promoting community relations and mutual understanding, said 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.'s battalion commander Lt. Col Mark Solomons.

"These partnerships create bonds that are instrumental for all sides understanding each other. Partnerships like these produce give-and-take relationships between Soldiers and civilians that last over time. We get to know what types of support these organizations can offer us, and vice versa, they find out what level of support 2-8 Cav. Regt. can provide for them," said Solomons, from Honolulu.

The partnership between CKC and 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. is one of many that exist between Fort Hood units and community organizations.

Shorty after 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. was deployed to Iraq, CKC sponsored an initial get-to-know-you/appreciation barbecue for its newly Adopt-A-Unit Soldiers and Family Members.

Raymond Perez, member of CKC, said since 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. deployment in February, CKC members have kept in touch with 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.'s rear detachment commander, Capt. Robert Stigers and offered their supported to the Soldiers and family members.

"Whatever support they need, we are determined to help them with," said Perez, from Killeen, Texas. "We don't care about the recognition; we just want to help out."

Another community partner promoting cooperation and community involvement during 2-8 Cav. Regt. deployments is CCHS. It's been 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Adopt-A-School partner for more than five years.

Amal Batty, a University Interscholastic League Academic & Activities Coordinator at CCHS, said Soldiers from 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. bring a positive message to students here about the other responsibilities that they play in the community, and at the same time gives students positive role-models to emulate.

"The Soldiers from 2-8 are wonderful, and Lt. Col. Solomons ... he is the man!" said Batty, from Nazareth, Israel. "Even from Iraq, he's a man of action, and I like that."

Since the deployment, CCHS officials have contacted Solomans from time-to-time to let him know what their needs were. Batty said there just isn't enough "good" things she can say about 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Soldiers.

The partnership between 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. and veteran fraternal organization 1st Cav. Association holds an historical significance for all 1st Cav. Soldiers. With periodic reunions, current 1st Cav. Soldiers and veterans have a chance to make and preserve old friendships.

The legend the present 1st Cav. Soldiers, to include current 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Soldiers are living, was written by veterans Soldiers from 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. and other Soldiers throughout the division, and that's an important part of this partnership, said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Webster, 1st Cav. Association executive director.

"It's important for active duty units like 2-8 Cav. to maintain contact with their former brigade veterans; they're a part of their history, their tradition, and their legacy," said Webster, from Copperas Cove, Texas. "The 1st Cavalry Division talks about 'Living the legend,' well 2-8 Cav. veteran Soldiers and others like them have already lived that legend."

In the same way, forming community partnerships in Iraq are just as important for 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Soldiers as the ones back here at home.

By partnering with the ISF, they are now part of the neighborhood family. The more the community trusts them, the more they are willing to work with Soldiers and not against them, Solomons said.

"Not a day goes by where the Stallions from 2-8 Cav. and their Iraqi Army counterparts aren't on the streets conducting combined patrols in and around the [districts]," Solomons said. "Operating by, with and through our Iraqi security partners, we isolate the enemy intimidating the people. At the end of the day "success equals the people of Iraq secure, the enemy resurgence denied, and our partnership with the Iraqis strengthened."

Solomons added the people in the communities know they can count on them and they can count on them.

The bonding that comes together from community organizations and the military is instrumental in both of them understanding each other; it's almost like a marriage. In the true spirit of partnership and cooperation, they overcome hurdles and obstacles together, Solomons said.

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