GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – Military spouses of several senior ranking officials took part in a quality-of-life tour of U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria on Thursday, March 11. The tour highlighted PCS procedures, housing, child care, health care, spouse employment, religious and recreational opportunities on the installation.
Special guests included Angela Abernethy, spouse of U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command Sgt. Maj. Rob Abernethy, Janet Morgan, spouse of 7th Army Training Command Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Morgan, and Dorothy Holmes, spouse of 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy Command Sgt. Maj. James Holmes III.
The tour was led in part by USAG Bavaria Deputy Commander Howard Johnston, Kathy Norrie, spouse of 7th Army Training Command commander Brig. Gen. Christopher Norrie, and Kristen Danbeck, spouse of USAG Bavaria commander Col. Christopher Danbeck. Program directors emphasized the dedication of their teams and organizational services throughout the visit.
The windshield tour started at Tower Barracks Army Lodging, where the shuttle bus looped past the new Grafenwoehr Elementary School construction site towards the Welcome Center. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Military Personnel Division Chief Robert Reed as he delivered an overview of in-processing procedures and spouse initiatives alongside supporting agencies — USO Bavaria and Army Community Service.
The tour continued through the building, as Housing Division Chief Norma Trassl detailed local housing opportunities made to service members and their families across the USAG Bavaria footprint. Abernethy expressed great interest in learning about the housing appointment structure, starting from the moment incoming families are assigned a sponsor.
The tour headed upstairs to openly discuss topics related to the military Family Advocacy Program and Behavior Health services with Jessica Stolar of ACS and Col. E. Lee Bryan, commander of MEDDAC-Bavaria, respectively. Topics covered included the expansion of virtual learning opportunities within a COVID-19 environment, how FAP supports mission readiness, local baby delivery and postnatal care options, and clinic sizes and availability for military family members.
“I would just like to make a plug for FAP,” said Abernethy. “The new parent support system was — and still is — amazing. What they’re doing is amazing work.”
The tour continued through the Netzaberg community, USAG Bavaria’s largest housing area, to view the local chapel, school grounds and child care services.
While at the child development center, Family and MWR Bavaria Director Audre Binder commended the hard work of the Senior Responsible Officer, garrison and host nation team for establishing guidelines that keep the installation safe enough to recently resume some services.
“Lessons learned to keeping children, military members and families healthy on all levels — for everybody’s wellbeing — is that sometimes small shutdowns are necessary to reset,” said Binder.
While touring the neighborhood, an overview of home based-business practices and military spouse employment opportunities was provided by Binder. She brought attention to the strong relationship the garrison has with host nation leaders, as they are the approving body of off-post businesses.
The last stop of the guided tour was at the Wild B.O.A.R. Outdoor Recreation Center, where center representatives and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers organization leaders provided information on how they strive continuously to provide Soldiers and community members the opportunity to learn life skills in a safe, peer-to-peer environment at USAG Bavaria.
“It’s not enough to be recreational,” concluded Binder. “Our program has to have value.”