ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Rock Island Arsenal has an extensive history and is known for its manufacturing and logistics capabilities. The motto, “Producing readiness since 1862,” tells the story of the people that have served and worked on this island centered in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois.
Part of that story is the mission of the RIA Garrison -- to maintain the Arsenal’s legacy of excellence through quality of life initiatives and base support.
“The garrison provides support and services that include everybody, from retirees to family members and service members,” said John Burns, deputy to the garrison commander. “I look at it (garrison operations) as supporting readiness. We coordinate and collaborate with all the agencies on the installation. DPW (Department of Public Works) is a large part of garrison support.”
Currently, DPW and their contractors are working on several projects.
Rodell Reed, engineering technician & contract officer representative, said DPW is working to replace windows in the hydro-electric dam facility at Building 160. And, DPW workers are installing drains that will connect to the storm sewers to keep water from collecting in the backyards of the housing areas on post.
“DPW ensures military housing meets DOD (Department of Defense) housing requirements,” said Reed. “DPW maintains all of the facilities that military families use, from parks and playgrounds to CDC/CYS (Child Development Center/ Child Youth Services) and MWR facilities.”
RIA is a unique military installation because it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988 and is home to numerous prominent landmarks that have stood on the Island for over 100 years.
“DPW maintains the base infrastructure and facilities to meet mission requirements,” said Reed. “We (DPW) maintain buildings built around 1900. The buildings have the year they were built right on the side of them.”
Many of the buildings on RIA are historic and require refurbishment. However, the housing area is new and the Army has a new application to help keep up with work orders and repairs.
Soldiers and family members here are using the new Army Maintenance Application or “ArMA” to contact DPW for work order requests and service support. This application allows direct communication with DPW and the ability to track work requests.
“I have the ArMA app for work orders,” said Faliesha Hammitt, a military spouse and resident in the RIA housing area. “I know people that used it and it is working out.”
RIA has a global impact with connections to 60 Department of Defense organizations and private companies on post. The garrison command provides life support for these units and directorates as well.
“The people who work and live on Rock Island Arsenal share in supporting RIA’s global mission and the people are the Arsenal’s most valuable resource,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Tisa Scott, RIA garrison command sergeant major. “People matter, taking care of our people takes care of our Army.”
There are benefits to living on a smaller military installation. The Directorate of Human Resources has a large impact on quality of life for the people here.
The Hammitt family has lived in newly built housing for about two years. The family previously has had the opportunity to live on post and off post at different Army installations.
“Living on a smaller military base has been convenient, with my husband working in the same place we live. Military people should want to come here,” said Hammitt. “I like that there are parks right outside my door where I can see my kids play.”
There are ups and downs, however, to living on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River.
“Living on the river is nice and the snow is a plus. In the winter we go skiing and there is a hill right behind our house where we take we take our kids snow tubing,” said Hammitt. “I do wish the [on post services] hours were longer. Some places close at 3 p.m. and we have to wait to get things done.”
The Moral Welfare and Recreation and Child Youth Services work to bring families support and services such as leisure activities, child care and sports programs. The CYS program received a grant for $3,000 from the Boys and Girls Club of America this year. The grant will support quality of life for military and Department of Defense civilian families, and retirees in the local area.
“We applied for the Boys and Girls Club of America’s play ball grant of $3,000 in early 2020. With Covid-19 restrictions, the grant was pushed to 2021,” said Joseph West, facility director of the School Age and Youth Center. “It (the grant) highlights how baseball and softball can be played outside of traditional organized leagues and tournaments and allows youth to increase their overall fitness while learning the fundamental skill of baseball and softball.”
“Summer camps (on the installation) will benefit from this grant. Military and DOD civilians can participate as long as they are CYS registered,” said Alan Knack, CYS coordinator.
“The resources are great here,” said Hammitt.
The RIA Garrison directorates are committed to maintaining and improving the quality of life for those people that work and live on RIA.
“The garrison is an important part of the military,” said Scott. “With the necessary tools we (RIA garrison) provide necessary services for all members of Rock Island Arsenal’s community, which creates better quality of life, and support for our nation’s warfighters. Whether it’s infrastructure and facilities, emergency services or recreation, a garrison has a hand in it.”