Spouse on mission to West Point
July 6, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas--The spouses of several hundred Soldiers laced up their walking shoes and headed out on a mission that would take them all the way to New York and back.
The many supporting spouses and family members of the Soldiers within the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment and all throughout the 41st Fires Brigade double knotted their shoes on May 10 to show their support by participating in the Walk to West Point event.
The family members may not directly walk to New York, but they are planning to walk the equivalent distance to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y as well as back to Fort Hood, which is approximately 3, 490 miles.
More than 260 Rail Gunners came together as Task Force Strike and departed on a temporary assignment teaching cadets at West Point in May. The temporary duty will continue to run until the middle of August.
The spouses meet up every Tuesday at the track around the Bronco Youth Center from 9-11 a.m. The Walk to West Point is a combined effort where all the spouses and family members who participate add their miles to their respective units' totals. All the units throughout the brigade will combine their totals to reach the group's overall goal.
After eight weeks of walking during high Central Texas temperatures and nearly 1,400 miles later, these determined Rail Gunner spouses found themselves crossing the borders of Pennsylvania. With the USMA being only 1,745 miles, the spouses have almost completed their first leg of the trip.
"The Walk to West Point is more than just about the miles," said Rachel Dean, the Family Readiness Support Advisor for the 2nd Bat., 20th Field Artillery Regt., 41st Fires Bde. "This becomes a great opportunity to bring the families together for the Soldiers involved with Task Force Strike mission in a more relaxed social setting, allowing them to get to know one another while working toward a common goal in support of the Soldiers who are TDY."
For one spouse this is the first time she has been away from her husband since his enlistment in the Army.
"My husband may not be in Iraq or Afghanistan but being away from your family never gets easy," said Stephanie Jewell, Culpeper, Va. native. "I've been married for eight months so this whole separation thing is new to me. It's good to have a support network like this though."
The family members were happy that the command and the family readiness group leaders created activities for everyone during the TDY.
"No matter if you're a spouse or a mother; it's never a joyous occasion when a loved-one leaves," said Tammie Jefferies, Knoxville, Tenn. native. "I'm going to miss my son, but I know he has a job to do. I also know that he will be safe doing his job."
So far most of the family members and spouses have completed their miles at a track, throughout various communities in the area, or while hiking. The walkers are encouraged to walk where it's best suitable for them and report their miles to their FRG leaders often. Elizabeth Shelton, the daughter of a Soldier in 2nd Bat., 20th Field Artillery Regt., 41st Fires Bde. is completing her miles during her summer reserve officer training course program. So far, she has walked more than 100 miles.
The spouses and family members will continue to step-it-out throughout the summer in support of their Soldiers until the group reaches their goal of 3,490 miles.