• 1st Sgt. Donald Smith and his wife Samantha pose for a formal portrait during 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball June 16 in Tacoma.

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    1st Sgt. Donald Smith and his wife Samantha pose for a formal portrait during 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball June 16 in Tacoma.

  • Sgt. Matthew Buehler, 56th Army Band, waits to sound the Mess Call during 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball June 16 in Tacoma.

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    Sgt. Matthew Buehler, 56th Army Band, waits to sound the Mess Call during 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball June 16 in Tacoma.

  • Soldiers toast the Army during the 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms.”

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    Soldiers toast the Army during the 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms.”

  • A Soldier and his partner enter the ballroom at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center during 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball on June 16.

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    A Soldier and his partner enter the ballroom at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center during 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball on June 16.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The 236th Army Birthday “Profession of Arms” Ball was a night to relax, have fun and remember what it means to be a professional Soldier.

The annual event, which took place at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center June 16, celebrated the Army with cocktails, dinner and, of course, cake.

But its theme served as a reminder that being a Soldier includes mastering a specific set of skills at home and abroad.

“Over 10 years of combat ... we’ve gotten some microfractures and fissures in what we do,” I Corps Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell said at the event.

The Army came up with the concept late last year, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Verbeke, who helped organize the ball. Suicides rates were too high and discipline was down, leading the Army to reemphasize things that haven’t been in the forefront during 10 years of war.

“It’s to get us focused on the things we should do naturally,” he said.

For Verbeke, this mostly means making sure everyone knows how to identify and address problems.

Checking in with Soldiers, tackling administrative tasks and reminding them of the proper way to wear a uniform are among the basics the Army will be getting back to.

“Those things have started to creep away,” he said.

It’s a task that’s particularly important for newer Soldiers, who weren’t in the Army before 9/11.

“Unfortunately most Soldiers are used to deploying, being home for a year and deploying again,” Sgt. 1st Class Oswaldo Garcia, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said at the ball.

Garcia pointed out that servicemembers of his generation get so used to life downrange, what it means to be a Soldier in garrison is often unfamiliar " making the theme for the evening appropriate.

“It’s definitely something we need to do,” he said.

Of course, the event wasn’t all about bolstering Army practices. It was also a chance to let loose, especially as I Corps deploys.

“This is one of the last opportunities we’ll have as a corps Family to all be together,” Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Lloyd Miles said.

Marisa Petrich: marisa.petrich@nwguardian.com

Page last updated Fri June 24th, 2011 at 00:00