Soldiers in the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Battalion relaxed with their Families while listening to music and enjoying a catered meal during the WTB's organization day at the USO Warrior and Family Care Center -- Fort Belvoir July 3.
The event was a day for the Soldiers to get out of their rooms and get away from the stress of daily life while spending time with their Families and meeting new people.
"It's a day for the Soldiers to let their hair down and build camaraderie," said Lt. Col. Carl Curriera, WTB commander. "It gives them a chance to relax and not have to worry about what they are going through right now."
The USO, Operation Homefront, the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the American Red Cross supported the event by providing food from Clyde's restaurant, music by Lionel Ward and the New World Band and face painting for children.
The effort and care demonstrated by the WTB and its supporters is appreciated by the Soldiers who attended, according to Spc. Cleber Ferreria, Warrior Transition Battalion, who enjoyed the company of other Soldiers and his own Family.
"The interaction makes me feel normal again," said Ferreira. "It makes me forget about the medical issues I have."
To have the cookout the day before the Fourth of July is special for Ferreira and Curriera.
"It means a lot," said Ferreira. "It's a good way to celebrate our nation's birthday."
"I strategically did that," said Curriera of having the event the day before Independence Day. "It has meaning since we are under the constraints we are, so it gives them something to do."
The organizations subsidizing the event did so because they want the Soldiers and Families to know they have support outside of the military, too, according to Vivian Dietrich, Operation Homefront executive director.
"There are so many people in the area who want to embrace these Soldiers," said Dietrich. "So, with this (event) happening before the holiday, and the Soldiers being away from their Families we wanted to do what we could to make the holiday enjoyable."
The opportunity to work with the supporting organizations is exciting, according to Pauline Ray, USO Warrior and Family Care Center, Hospital Services, entertainment manager.
"We've always supported our wounded, ill and injured," said Ray. "We work so well with the other organizations that are here; when the opportunity came we definitely wanted to assist."
At the end of the day each organization, including the WTB, wanted to make sure the Soldiers had fun and refreshed themselves mentally.
"It's a chance for the Soldiers to sit around and meet with different people outside of who they see on a normal day," said Curriera. "It takes their minds off of all this stuff."