Quality of life issues dominate town hall
December 8, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Quality of life issues - everything from new facilities coming online to access to healthcare to the new U.S. Forces Korea Command Sponsorship Program - took top billing at the Warrior Country Community Town Hall in the Casey Garrison Community Activity Center Dec. 1.
More than 100 community members turned out to get the "latest and greatest" information about a flurry of activities and projects that are occurring in Warrior Country as a result of "tour normalization."
In his opening remarks, Brig. Gen. Charles L. Taylor, assistant division commander (maneuver), 2nd Infantry Division, mentioned the attack by the North Koreans on Yeonpyeong Island Nov. 23.
"This is why we are here and this is why we've been here for 60 years," he said. "This is why we will stand, as President Obama said to President Lee, 'shoulder to shoulder with our partners.' That needs to resonate with you - the importance of who you are and what you're doing."
Yun Heo, U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud Directorate of Public Works chief, talked about the child development center and Army Community Service facilities at Casey and the ACS and community activity center at Red Cloud Garrison - all of which will be completed this month.
Chris Bradford, U.S. Army Red Cloud Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, said the facilities will open in early 2011 after they have passed an Department of Army inspection and have been furnished.
Shelly Kennedy, Casey Elementary School principal, said the school now has a dedicated phone line for school delays and closures. She said a decision will be made no later than 6 a.m. during inclement weather and that parents can get the information by calling 031-869-6481.
She told parents the school will take one of three actions: remain open, open two hours late or be closed. When it opens late, the buses will pick-up children two hours later than normal and parents must send lunch to school with their children because the school will not have enough time to arrange for meals to be served.
Healthcare again took center stage as it did during the Warrior Country Army Family Action Plan Conference the end of October. Maj. Anthony Rhea, officer-in-charge of the U.S. Army Health Clinic at Casey Garrison, said he is working to provide more appointments.
He said physician assistants on loan from 2ID enabled him to move two of his staff from After-Hours Care to primary care. Rhea also moved sick call from 4 p.m. to 6-7a.m. and is trying to eliminate appointment no-shows.
"If you know you aren't going to make it to your appointment, please just call the clinic and cancel that way it will open up an appointment for someone else," he said.
Following some questions from the audience, Lt. Col. David Hater, chief of personnel for the 2nd Infantry Division, prepared to give the CSP brief to the public for the first time.
"I guess it just got very lonely up on the stage," he quipped as other town hall briefers filed out of the room. "I'm just the last pop-up target today so feel free to fire away..."
Hater began his brief by telling the audience that USFK has three priorities: being ready to fight tonight, strengthening the ROK-U.S. Alliance and improving the quality of life, which the CSP supports. He said since "tour normalization" began in December 2008 the number of command sponsored Soldiers has increased from 1,800 to 4,400 peninsula-wide.
"It has been on a first-come, first-serve basis, but the demand has exceeded our support structure so that is why we must change," Hater said.
There were only two categories under the old program, but there are now three: key billets, who are commanders and command sergeants major; sergeant first class through command sergeant major, warrant officers and lieutenants through colonels, as well as junior Soldiers whose positions are deemed critical by commanders because they enhance mission readiness. The last category is all others not in the first two groups.
Hater said all 2nd Inf. Div. Soldiers who have applied for command sponsorship would be counseled by their chain of command in the coming days. With Casey Elementary School already at capacity, he said Soldiers in the second category who don't have school-age children may get CSP approval in the near future. Other applicants with school-age children will not be approved until there is space for them.
Visit www.usfk.mil for more information about the CSP.