Soldiers learn to take care of barracks

By CourtesyJuly 16, 2019

Soldiers learn to take care of barracks
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers learn to take care of barracks
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Soldiers learn to take care of barracks
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Russell Werth, self-help instructor, shows Pvt. Braxton Webber a detail on the patch he was putting on a sheetrock panel, While Spc. Justin Neely worked on his patch. The two 1st Infantry Division Artillery Soldiers were part of a week-long class to ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

When Soldiers go home and a light bulb needs changing or a hole in the wall needs patching, they or a family member will usually handle that task. But when the Soldier lives in the barracks with many other people - they will often wait for someone else to fix the problem.

But who should fix it?

A program that allows Soldiers to learn how to take care of, fix and replace parts around the barracks answers that question.

Russell Werth, self-help instructor, teaches and coordinates classes for single Soldiers who would like to take care of their barracks.

Spc. Mia Broadway, 1st Infantry Division Artillery, recently attended the classes and learned how to patch a hole, who to call about the potholes,

what to do if a bat or other animal is in the barracks and more.

"Our barracks - there are a lot of issues with them, and a lot of them aren't being reported," she said. "With the help of this class ... we can help take away some of those problems. We can call the proper channels and improve our living conditions."

They learned what services they need to put in a work order for and what they are allowed to do themselves.

"Now that we know that we can actually get some assistance in fixing things, we can get our unit's area better and beautify the area," Broadway said. "We've learned where we can go to get supplies to fix things. And we've actually learned our limitations as to what we can do."

Even though the barracks is a temporary home, she said she wants it to be nice and livable - not a place with holes in the walls, leaky pipes and rodents.

"If you live there you want to fix the place you live in," she said. "It's just like a house, if there's something wrong with your house, you want to fix it."

Now that she and other DIVARTY Soldiers, who also live in the barracks, have gone through the classes with her, she said she is sure the conditions will improve.

Werth said there are many do-it-yourself projects Soldiers can do.

"They are liable (with some exceptions) for everything 10- foot and below," he said. They can do chores like fixing ceiling tiles or the garbage disposal, replacing electric covers, changing light bulbs and minor

plumbing. For other projects, they learned the difference between a work order and a service order and how to submit them.

"A service order is for anything that's already existing and you're just repairing or replacing," Werth said. "If [an] electrical outlet is busted, that's a service order ... a work order is for any new work."

In one of the classes, they learned about the wildlife on Fort Riley and what to do if they encounter animals or pests in the barracks.

"We run them through a little bit of everything," Werth said. And they are likely to see a little bit of everything, he said, recalling some of the stranger calls he had received.

"The strangest - you don't even want to know some of them," he said. But on the top of his list was getting two calls in one week about bowling balls accidentally going through the wall. When he asked one of the Soldiers how that happened, all he was told was 'don't ask,' Werth said.

While the work the Soldiers learn and put into practice helps on their home front, Werth said there are other benefits for them.

"The biggest thing is, have a little bit of respect and pride in your barracks and stuff," he said. "But I also tell them - something like the measuring tape, a lot of them don't like fractions, they don't like math;

but we teach them that the time is going to come, you're gonna have to measure for mini blinds or curtains.

Somebody's going to call up needing to know the length of the windows. If you're replacing windows in your house; they're going to want to know the measurements of it and telling them 'well, it's 23 and four tick marks'

ain't gonna cut it."

In years to come these Soldiers will have some of the knowledge they'll need to take care of their own house, meanwhile, they can take care of their barracks and make them a nice living environment, he said.