Garrison opens installation to local neighbors
November 14, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Most people have wondered about their neighbors: Who are they? Where are they going? Why do they do certain things?
At more than 95,000 Soldiers, civilians and families, the Army is one of the largest neighbors in Hawaii; yet, what goes on inside the military gates is a mystery to many.
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii shed a little light on that mystery, Oct. 14, opening up its doors to give island neighbors an insight into the Army and the garrison with an inaugural Community Ohana Day.
More than 60 community members from various civic, service and fraternal organizations, as well as small businesses and local educators, attended the half-day event, here.
Throughout the day, attendees took the opportunity to talk with garrison staff and Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division about the daily lives of Army Hawaii Soldiers and their families. Attendees were also introduced to the role USAG-HI plays in providing critical services and support to care for these Soldiers' and families' needs.
The day started with each attendee receiving a profile of a either a spouse or Soldier. Attendees were asked to view the day's events through that particular Soldier's or spouse's eyes.
Profiles were based on actual individuals assigned here. Soldier profiles included information on why they joined the Army, the number of deployments served and proudest moments in service. Spouse profiles included information on how long they've been a spouse, the number of deployments they've experienced and the challenges faced as a military spouse.
Armed with their profiles, attendees received a welcome from Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, USAG-HI, who was also one of the day's escorts, before boarding the buses to begin their visit.
The attendees were divided into groups to visit three separate stops, round-robin style.
At Weyand Field, USAG-HI's Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, explained how the Army balances its mission with the environment. Attendees were then turned loose to explore a tactical equipment display complete with a Chinook, a Black Hawk, a humvee, a Stryker and personal protective equipment.
The stop at a residence in the Kalakaua Community introduced attendees to Army housing, and the improvements made possible through the Army's partnership with Island Palm Communities.
Meanwhile, at the E Quad barracks, a DPW historian explained how the garrison has preserved the rich history of the installation during modernization efforts.
Sgt. Arthur Stevenson, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID, also briefed at E Quad, sharing his personal experiences before he and his team of Soldiers led a tour of the 3rd BCT's living quarters.
"When I first joined the Army, I shared a four-man room," he told attendees. "Now, every Soldier has his own room, and that's amazing to me."
Stevenson also highlighted the Soldiers assisting him with the barracks tour.
"These Soldiers live in the barracks; they're proud of it, and I couldn't be more proud of them," he said.
The event culminated with lunch at the K Quad dining facility.
During one last question-and-answer forum there, one attendee asked what the origin of the event was. True to the day's focus, Mulbury once again pointed to the Soldier.
"We've sensed that Soldiers and families have lost some of the connection to the local community because of the military pace of life and recurring deployments," he said. "We want to help rebuild that connection, in part by showcasing the quality of our Soldiers, as well as our installation and services. We also want to show you what your taxpayer dollars are doing to support today's all-volunteer Army."
Brig. Gen. Roger Mathews, deputy commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, also made an appearance at the lunch and thanked attendees for taking time out of their busy schedules to learn more about the Army community.
"The strength of our Army and the strength of our Soldiers comes from the strength of their families and the communities, here, that they call home," he told attendees. "You are a big part of the ohana that keeps our Army strong."
USAG-HI plans to continue its outreach efforts with similar Community Ohana Days in the future.