Soldiers, past and present, have a solid organization right under their wings prepared to serve families, friends, and members of the 4th Infantry Division community.
The 4th Inf. Div. Association, with 21 chapters across the nation, provides former Soldiers the necessary means to keep in touch with old battle buddies and continue as a member of the Ivy Division family.
"(The association) is intended to promote the division, to be a rallying point for serving members of the 4th Inf. Div., veterans of the 4th Inf. Div., and a place for friends to find buddies they served with," said Lt. Col. John Baker, 4th Inf. Div.
The Fort Hood chapter of the association is the most active chapter of them all, Baker said. Currently, there are 125 members, and a recent membership drive has given the current executive board a strong indication that those numbers will rise significantly. The local chapter did not have a drive last year due to the division's deployment to Iraq.
A number of important programs are funded and supported through the association. Dues from membership fees are one of the ways revenue is brought in to the Ivy Division's Fort Hood community. It also oversees the 4th Inf. Div. gift shop, which sells everything from T-shirts to miniature replicas of the Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial. Proceeds from the gift shop go toward programs backed by the association.
"The Association has supported the division in many ways," said Chris Sauceda, the outgoing president of the Fort Hood chapter. "A few that come to mind are the fundraising and construction of both the original OIF I memorial, as well as the soon-to-be dedicated OIF 05-07 memorial update."
An important program to all involved is a new scholarship fund created by the Fort Hood chapter. A substantial amount of money has been raised for scholarships for children of fallen 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers from both OIF I and 05-07 has been raised. The chapter has also applied to philanthropy in Dallas for endowments that will enable the association to create even more scholarships. Members are finalizing the process of distributing the scholarships.
The association also provides financial support to various groups on post, such as the 4th Inf. Div. Layette program, which provides junior soldiers with a basket of newborn goodies, Sauceda said.
A perfect example of staying with the 4th Inf. Div. family and making the association what it is today is the service of Sauceda. He was a platoon leader during OIF I and was wounded in action. The injuries he suffered led to a medical discharge from the Army - but not from his brothers and sisters-in-arms from the 4th Inf. Div.
"I like to say that I have a lot of sweat, tears and a little bit of blood with 4th Inf. Div," he said. "My service with the division, and my friends in the 4th Inf. Div. that are still wearing a uniform, were the ties that led me to volunteer for the Presidency." Sauceda credits all of the members of the executive board and the rest of the members as the reason the Fort Hood chapter is as successful as it is.
Besides the board of directors and the Soldiers who help make the association a success, a great deal of credit goes towards the volunteers who contribute in so many ways and make the whole thing a total "team" effort.
"Don't think for one second we could do what we do without the help of the Ivy League ladies and many other friends of the 4th Inf. Div.," Sauceda remarked. "They are just as much a part of the Association as anyone."
The Fort Hood chapter elected a new executive board Friday and is finalizing preparation for the unveiling of the addition to the OIF memorial, scheduled for May. The 4th Inf. Div. gift shop is located inside the 4th Inf. Div. museum and is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the 4th Inf. Div. association, visit the association's website at <a href="http://www.4thinfantry.org" target="_blank">www.4thinfantry.org</a>