Baumholder Spouses Summit aimed at "building a better tomorrow, today"
A family member makes a comment during Baumholder's Spouse Summit Feb. 5.

BAUMHOLDER, Germany - Baumholder spouses discussed how to "Build a Better Tomorrow, Today," during the first U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder Spouse Summit at the Rheinlander Club Feb. 5. "Building a Better Tomorrow, Today" was the theme put forth in opening remarks by Lt. Col. Paul Pfahler, USAG Baumholder commander, to spouses representing the entire Baumholder military community, and has been his vision since assuming command in July 2009.
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"We need your thoughts. We need your ideas. This is your community," said Pfahler.
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A readiness mindset, family readiness groups, quality of life, a strong sense of community and pride, family down time, respite care, a newcomers monthly briefing for spouses and resiliency were just a few of the topics covered in the six-hour session.
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One recommendation put forth involved extending the current 16 free hours of child care that parents receive 30 days before and after deployment to 60 days in order to avoid bumping it with the block leave that Soldiers receive before and after deployment.
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Another issue involved not enough staff and personnel at the child care centers, to which Pfahler agreed by saying, "There are jobs on this post. Most of these spaces could be filled by the people you know."
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Greg Galloway, Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, reminded the group that Baumholder's next job fair is scheduled for Feb. 23.
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"There were a lot of things we wanted to get done with this summit. One, we wanted to identify topics. We can hear from the community on ICE cards and we can hear from them in town halls but we wanted to identify issues face to face with our customers," said USAG Baumholder Command Sgt. Maj. Earla Reddock.
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"The other thing is that we had key questions for the spouses. What are we doing that's working' What are we doing that's not working' What are we not doing' What are we doing that we should eliminate' We may have programs that we think are great, but to the people who are actually at the front door using the program, they may be like, wow, we don't really want this. Actually we'd like this to stop, but we'd like for you to do this," Reddock explained.
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In answering some of these questions one spouse said the predeployment fair the garrison held was one thing that worked. One thing that is not working, according to the spouses, is that Soldiers are not getting the right information to their spouses. "You have to find a way to get Soldiers and spouses on the same page," explained a spouse. It was pointed out that a Soldier may not tell an FRSA or FRG not to contact his wife. That request must come from the wife.
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The desire for information was an underlying theme throughout the summit. Spouses expressed their desire for knowledge and current information. One recommendation involved creating a sponsorship program for spouses and another was a newcomers monthly spouses briefing. "The information flow from spouse to spouse is a powerful thing," explained one spouse. Along the lines of information flow, a spouse recommended developing a section on the Baumholder website dedicated to the information needs of the spouse, while another suggested making it more user friendly.
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The larger issue of family time after deployment was something that Pfahler said he was going to take forward as an issue for the Army Family Action Plan conference. "This summit is nested with AFAP but it's not the AFAP conference," explained Reddock. Some of the issues raised at the summit were to be addressed at Baumholder's AFAP conference Feb. 17 and 18.
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Spouses not being allowed to attend the finance briefing with their Soldier was another issue that surfaced and that Pfahler may present at the AFAP conference. "I need to find out whose rule it is first, and then we'll go from there," said Pfahler.
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Another possible AFAP issue dealt with the amount of teachers versus student enrollment at the schools. Since the amount of student enrollment determines the amount of teachers hired, this ratio is not always valid given the influx of Soldiers and families overseas. A spouse pointed out that children should receive the same education across the board.
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The discussion about programs that benefit the community included ideas and suggestions like shuttle service for Soldiers with Space-A service for family members, standardizing CYC and ACS programs, resourcing a School- Age Services program on Smith Barracks, no diaper changing tables in men's bathrooms, more mechanics at the AAFES car center, more case lot sales and more.
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Jerry Walters, Baumholder director of public works, presented some information about ongoing and future quality of life improvements on Baumholder, notably the plans for new townhouses in upper Wetzel, of which the first phase is expected to begin next year.
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Numerous other topics were raised concerning items such as recycling and off post residents not being allowed to bring their trash on post, town hall meetings, incentives for families to beautify their stairwells and even a public relations campaign to help instill a sense of community pride.
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The summit closed with the topic of resilience, which involved an announcement of new religious services and a discussion of Soldier and family spiritual fitness, which brought up the issue of religious retreats. This is one thing that is working, according to a spouse at the summit, but more retreats and slots may be needed. Another initiative that worked and that spouses want to see again was the Battle Buddies program, which involved Soldiers coming in and spending time with children at the schools, reading to them or just talking. "It did the children a world of good to see the Soldiers in their uniforms come into the schools and spend some time with them," commented a spouse.
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Jacqy Matlock, a facilitator during the summit, thanked the spouses for their participation and told them she had some good take-aways from the summit. She focused on issues such as the monthly newcomers briefing for spouses, information on the web specifically for spouses and a centralized information point for community members.
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Matlock also talked aboutStork Strasse, a sort of community-wide baby shower and symposium for information focused on expectant parents on March 13 at the Rheinlander.
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"Overall I think it was a success, an overwhelming success at that. I was pretty happy about it. I think it was a great opportunity for them to be heard, and a lot of people wanted to be heard. Unfortunately there's just never enough time with these things.
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"I am so happy that we were allowed to do this for this community because we have great spouses here, and we really enjoyed interacting with them," said Reddock.
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"We're capturing everything we're doing because once we're done with it we want to submit it as a best practices suggestion. And we'd like to see every garrison all over IMCOM doing a summit because it's a great thing and our spouses deserve it," said Reddock.

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