By Pfc. Kim, Tae HoonJune 24, 2009
CASEY GARRISON SOUTH KOREA - Soldiers, Civilians and Family members had their questions answered regarding garrison life by the commander and directors during a town hall meeting June 16 in the USAG-Casey Community Activity Center.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide information about garrison activities, plans and initiatives and discuss ways to improve quality of life in Area I. Lt. Col. Donald Meisler, USAG-Casey commander, led the meeting.
Tour normalization, command sponsorship, renovations of Gateway Club, barracks, Casey lodge, and events held by Better Opportunities for Unaccompanied and Single Soldiers were the main topics of the meeting. Meisler pointed out tour normalization was progressing by steps as was command sponsorship. He said schools, child development centers, and increasing the number of commissaries is being discussed.
"When it comes to the options for the 2010 to 2011 school year, the decision to build schools has been deferred," he said. "There are two accredited international schools in Uijeongbu and two nonaccredited schools in Dongducheon where military Families can send their children."
Renovations are big issues as well. Meisler began with the current renovations of Gateway Club.
The Java CafAfA, as an addition to the Gateway Club is currently under construction and will expand the club's size. He said Soldiers would be able to enjoy a Starbucks type of atmosphere as on USAG-Red Cloud. The cafAfA on Casey, he said, is licensed to sell the Starbucks products, so there would be no difference between the two. Also, Meisler said the garrison is currently involved in six projects including 12 pipeline projects to improve the barracks, beginning with the worst case.
The expansion of Casey Lodge at Red Cloud was discussed during the meeting.
"Our goal is to expand the Casey lodge to support the increasing number of Families moving to and from Casey as tour normalization and command sponsorship progresses," Meisler said. "Casey Lodge currently has 65 rooms. We will add 48 more."
More than 20 issues, from parking lots to problems with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, were brought up during the meeting.
First question was about the increasing need for more parking lots. As command sponsorship becomes effective, more Family members and Soldiers will buy, and are entitled to buy, privately owned vehicles. Shortage of parking spaces will become an issue, Meisler said. The question is how will the garrison prepare for the growing need'
"We will see a lot more privately owned vehicles soon," he said. "We are looking for a site to build new parking lots. In Yongsan, they put additional parking behind the Post Exchange. For the same reasons we are looking for similar areas."
Another complaint was about furniture for new Soldiers. Although more Soldiers want to buy new furniture in Korea when they bring their Families, there seems to be no suitable way to dispose of old furniture when they move on.
"We have an option: the Foreign Goods Transaction Office, which is approved by the Korean government, was established for Soldiers to buy duty free goods or sell them to other people." Meisler explained. "Unfortunately, this option is not well known in our community; it's like a swap shop, if you own a POV and wish to sell it, you can advertise it on their website. Or, if someone wants to get rid of something before leaving, they can advertise and sell it at market value."
There were issues by Family members asking if AAFES would stock more clothing for children.
"We started a section for children's clothing last month and are trying to diversify sizes for adults," said Ken Limtiaco, AAFES northern region manager. "We are beginning to advertise; it takes some time for the word to spread."
"Before tour normalization and command sponsorship came to Area I, the commissary and Post Exchange serviced troops only, so products for dependents of Soldiers were limited." Meisler said. "For this reason, there are still some inconveniences compared with other areas, but one thing is clear; we are making progress."