From the foxhole: Forum gives junior enlisted Soldiers voice in the community
December 10, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany -- The concerns of junior enlisted Soldiers were the focus of attention Nov. 28 at the Tony Bass Fitness Center.
Sgt. Maj. Keith Craig of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service-Europe and Command Sgt. Maj. Sa'eed Mustafa, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, invited Wiesbaden-area E-4s and below to ask questions of representatives of the Exchange, Defense Commissary Agency, USO, Housing, Education Center, the garrison's Transformation and Stationing Management Office and the Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation.
"This is a platform for us to convey information to E-4s and below," said Mustafa, praising his Exchange counterpart for approaching him earlier this year with the idea of reaching out to junior enlisted Soldiers who might sometimes feel neglected in the information loop. "It's really just a platform for us to talk to Soldiers -- a senior NCO initiative.
"We chose foxhole as an analogy for basic Soldiering," said Mustafa, explaining the title, Exchange Foxhole Event -- "the connection from an old Soldier to a younger Soldier."
"This is in line with us trying to close some of the gaps with the Soldiers and the Exchange," said Craig. "We want to show them that we're here for them."
Both of the senior NCOs said that while typically information is shared with senior leaders and then is expected to flow down through the NCO support channel and chain of command, that doesn't always occur. Hence the foxhole effort to reach out to junior enlisted Soldiers.
"These people and all of us are here to serve you," said Mustafa, opening the floor to questions from the gathered Soldiers.
With questions ranging from why not all Wiesbaden military community housing areas are fenced in to concerns about the configuration of barracks rooms, subject matter experts did their best to explain current policies and future plans while sharing information about a host of programs and opportunities available through the Exchange, garrison and other agencies. Soldiers learned about the new Exchange Complex being built in Hainerberg Housing with construction set to start in early 2013 and completion slated for 2015, the Culture College program which provides a three-day introduction to Germany and local resources, ways to special order items through the Exchange and Commissary and various other quality-of-life topics.
One question concerned the possibility of offering a voucher program during Spring and Fall Cleanups, similar to one in Heidelberg, whereby community members could pick up vouchers from Self Help to obtain flowers or other beautification items from a local vendor. Housing Manager Donald Meyer said officials are working on offering this service in spring during the next cleanup activities.
Soldiers were also reminded that the Wiesbaden Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program runs a free shuttle service from Clay Kaserne to the Wiesbaden Commissary on a regular basis to help them obtain needed supplies and nutritional foods. The bus operates every first and third Thursday of the month, departing from the Warrior Zone at 6 p.m.
Dr. Robert Schloesser, USAG Wiesbaden's FMWR director, said the shuttle service would be offered more frequently if there was indeed more of a demand.
Thomas Blakely of the garrison's Transformation Stationing Management Office responded to a question about sports and parade fields on Clay Kaserne by explaining that transformation efforts are continuing to provide more options with one field already available on the North Side of Clay Kaserne, another in the works and multiple sports options to be available in Newman Village. He explained that planners are looking at also establishing a parade field on the installation in front of Building 1015.
"I'm proud today to be a Soldier to see you young Soldiers asking these tough questions," said Mustafa, encouraging all of them to show their unit pride and to help do that by competing on their unit sports teams.
"Thank you for being good sports," added Craig. "This is truly what it's all about. This is teamwork. … We want to thank you for your service."