Lt. Col. Matt Rivera conducts first of twice daily Task Force Home sync meetings with all Life Support Area and supporting commanders to include the 39th Transportation 
Battalion staff. The Army is providing temporary housing, medical, and logistical support to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for Afghan special immigrants and their families and others.
1 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Matt Rivera conducts first of twice daily Task Force Home sync meetings with all Life Support Area and supporting commanders to include the 39th Transportation
Battalion staff. The Army is providing temporary housing, medical, and logistical support to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for Afghan special immigrants and their families and others. (Photo Credit: Spc. Katelyn Myers)
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Lt. Col. Matt Rivera conducts breakout coordination meeting following their daily sync meeting with Task Force Home's leaders Maj. Justin Collins, 709th Military Police Battalion Operations Officer, Maj. Brendan Collins 21st Theater Sustainment Command Special Troops Battalion Executive Officer and Capt. Jennifer Morgan 55th Quarter Master Company Commander. The Army is providing temporary housing, medical, and logistical support to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for Afghan special immigrants and their families and others.
2 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Matt Rivera conducts breakout coordination meeting following their daily sync meeting with Task Force Home's leaders Maj. Justin Collins, 709th Military Police Battalion Operations Officer, Maj. Brendan Collins 21st Theater Sustainment Command Special Troops Battalion Executive Officer and Capt. Jennifer Morgan 55th Quarter Master Company Commander. The Army is providing temporary housing, medical, and logistical support to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for Afghan special immigrants and their families and others. (Photo Credit: Spc. Katelyn Myers) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. veteran Corey Mackey, also known as "DJ Nolla," plays a mix of Mid-Eastern and pop at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Dance nights are part of the recreational and entertainment offerings provided to travelers in the temporary living facilities.
3 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. veteran Corey Mackey, also known as "DJ Nolla," plays a mix of Mid-Eastern and pop at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Dance nights are part of the recreational and entertainment offerings provided to travelers in the temporary living facilities. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
The tea and chai stations established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks also provide baby formula and clean baby bottles. Afghan volunteer Madina (last name not used here) said she enjoys helping her fellow travelers by dispensing hot beverages for at least eight hours a day.  Maj. Jodi Santiago, Public Health Command Europe, ensures sanitation and safety at the station.
4 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The tea and chai stations established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks also provide baby formula and clean baby bottles. Afghan volunteer Madina (last name not used here) said she enjoys helping her fellow travelers by dispensing hot beverages for at least eight hours a day. Maj. Jodi Santiago, Public Health Command Europe, ensures sanitation and safety at the station. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
Afghan travelers at Rhine Ordnance Barracks congregate at a Wi-Fi hot spot. To allow travelers to communicate with family and friends in Afghanistan and the U.S., Wi-Fi accessible areas were created throughout the facility. The Army is providing temporary housing, medical, and logistical support to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for Afghan special immigrants and their families and others.
5 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Afghan travelers at Rhine Ordnance Barracks congregate at a Wi-Fi hot spot. To allow travelers to communicate with family and friends in Afghanistan and the U.S., Wi-Fi accessible areas were created throughout the facility. The Army is providing temporary housing, medical, and logistical support to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for Afghan special immigrants and their families and others. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command's Equal Opportunity office coordinated skits that supplemented U.S. cultural norms classes. The skits, narrated by interpreters, dealt with domestic violence, child abuse and gender roles. (L to R) Spc. Christian Spigner, 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center, Capt. Estela Schlund, 30th Medical Brigade, PFC Derek Weller, PV2 Juana Bautista and Spc. Andrew Raesch, 1st HRSC.
6 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 21st Theater Sustainment Command's Equal Opportunity office coordinated skits that supplemented U.S. cultural norms classes. The skits, narrated by interpreters, dealt with domestic violence, child abuse and gender roles. (L to R) Spc. Christian Spigner, 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center, Capt. Estela Schlund, 30th Medical Brigade, PFC Derek Weller, PV2 Juana Bautista and Spc. Andrew Raesch, 1st HRSC. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
The tea and chai stations established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks also provide clean baby bottles and formula. Afghan volunteer Madina (last name not used here) said she enjoys helping her fellow travelers and dispenses hot beverages about eight hours a day.
7 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The tea and chai stations established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks also provide clean baby bottles and formula. Afghan volunteer Madina (last name not used here) said she enjoys helping her fellow travelers and dispenses hot beverages about eight hours a day. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
The tea and chai stations established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks also provide clean baby bottles and formula. Afghan volunteer Madina (last name not used here) said she enjoys helping her fellow travelers and dispenses hot beverages about eight hours a day.  Maj. Jodi Santiago, Public Health Command Europe, ensures sanitation and safety at the station.
8 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The tea and chai stations established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks also provide clean baby bottles and formula. Afghan volunteer Madina (last name not used here) said she enjoys helping her fellow travelers and dispenses hot beverages about eight hours a day. Maj. Jodi Santiago, Public Health Command Europe, ensures sanitation and safety at the station. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lt. Col. Hardy Johnson, 21st Theater Sustainment Command Equal Opportunity Program Manager, left, and CW2 Regina Crump, 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center, right, prepare to perform skits that demonstrate U.S. cultural norms for Afghan travelers at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Narrated by interpreters, the skits addressed the topics of domestic violence, child abuse and gender roles.
9 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Hardy Johnson, 21st Theater Sustainment Command Equal Opportunity Program Manager, left, and CW2 Regina Crump, 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center, right, prepare to perform skits that demonstrate U.S. cultural norms for Afghan travelers at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Narrated by interpreters, the skits addressed the topics of domestic violence, child abuse and gender roles. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
Kaiserslautern Middle School English as a Second Language Teacher Morgan Guinn leads Afghan children in a learning exercise at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Teachers and volunteers from DODEA schools and the 21st Theater Sustainment Command provide lessons and activities to help position the children for academic success in the United States.
10 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Kaiserslautern Middle School English as a Second Language Teacher Morgan Guinn leads Afghan children in a learning exercise at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Teachers and volunteers from DODEA schools and the 21st Theater Sustainment Command provide lessons and activities to help position the children for academic success in the United States. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL
Afghan travelers at Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Kaiserslautern prepare to leave the temporary living facilities and establish new roots on U.S. soil.
11 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Afghan travelers at Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Kaiserslautern prepare to leave the temporary living facilities and establish new roots on U.S. soil. (Photo Credit: Eleanor Prohaska) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Bloom where you are planted,” is an Afghan proverb that many U.S. Service Members and families know well. For more than seven thousands Afghan travelers en route to the United States, the Life Support Areas at Rhine Ordnance Barracks are important “starter pots” preparing them for new lives on U.S. soil.

Much like seed-starting pots provide optimal conditions for young plants, U.S. Soldiers, DOD civilians, and volunteers supporting Operation Allies Welcome and Task Force Home are doing everything they can to make the temporary living facilities at ROB safe, comfortable and conducive to growth, helping travelers thrive during and after their transition to the U.S.

16th Sustainment Brigade’s 39th Transportation Battalion commander Lt. Col. Matt Rivera, leads the Task Force Home Command and Control Headquarters, providing guidance and resources to accomplish the unprecedented and historic mission of caring for thousands of Afghan travelers amid a global pandemic.

“One of the biggest things you get out of the military is problem-solving—constantly, constantly solving problems,” said Rivera. “And this is a very unique problem set. It’s really important to bring a team together as fast as you can and then convey the problems and then solve the problems as quickly as you can.”

According to Rivera, the Task Force Home team is made up of DOD civilians and Service Members from units across Germany, including the 16th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Battalion from 2nd Calvary Regiment, 512th Field Hospital from the 30th Medical Brigade, 1st Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 515th Transportation Company, 66th Transportation Company 23rd Modular Ordnance Ammunition Company, 317th Support Maintenance Company, 709th Military Police and 51st Composite Truck Company.

“We are responsible for the health and welfare of all arriving Afghan travelers,” said Rivera. “Our primary focus is to provide suitable temporary lodging in a safe and dignified manner while setting conditions for their successful transition to their next destination, which for the majority of the travelers will be the U.S.”

According to Rivera, forging positive relationships is the first step in being able to accommodate the diverse groups within the Afghan traveler population

“The demographics vary by culture, gender, language, tribes, and marital status,” said Rivera. “We want to accommodate each demographic as best we can.”

Successful efforts include establishing 24-hour tea and chai stations and catering to dietary preferences to make life more comfortable and familiar. 16th STB cooks, who prepare two hot mails daily, worked with Afghan travelers to learn how to prepare foods more tailored to Afghan tastes. Preferred breads and fruits were also added to daily selections.

To allow travelers to communicate with family and friends in Afghanistan and the U.S., Wi-Fi accessible areas were created throughout the facility.

Volunteers and Soldiers distribute basic needs like blankets, clothing and hygiene items daily at various sites and a designated donation center. Task Force Home supports ongoing donation efforts with additional manpower, coordinating logistics and collecting and transporting truckloads of donations that also include shoes, toys and luggage. The donation coordination ensures travelers unaccustomed to Germany’s cooler fall climate have access to warm weather items such as covered shoes, hats and coats.

To ensure traveler health and safety, the 30th Medical Brigade provides onsite 24 hour care and evacuation capability to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center if required. They also led the effort to vaccinate travelers for measles, mumps and rubella, chickenpox and COVID-19. Pregnant travelers receive prenatal care, and there have been 11 births at ROB. Volunteers also staff baby formula and bottle washing stations, with some Afghan teens helping to mix formula and hand out bottles.

Recreational opportunities include dances with a live DJ, corn hole and volleyball tournaments, puppet shows, movie nights with popcorn and card games.

“All these activities plus many more were big hits,” said Rivera.

Educational programs include English classes for adults and children led by Department of Defense Education Activity teachers and volunteers. U. S. cultural norm classes, facilitated by 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, are led by Afghan travelers who have lived in the United States. 21st Theater Sustainment Command collaboration recently made regular delivery of donated Stars and Stripes newspapers possible.

Rivera said the breadth of expertise offered by multiple units has enhanced the team’s ability to meet the challenges that come with charting new territory.

“I think the military lets you be open to other opinions and ideas,” said Rivera. “The military prepares you in terms of listening to people from different backgrounds and different experiences and accepting them.”

He cited the example of 21st TSC Human Resources Command and 569th Human Resources Company lending staff, manpower, and expertise to address the significant challenge of maintaining accountability during the rapid arrival of 6,000 individuals. The 569th Human Resources Company worked tirelessly to issue bracelets with barcodes and scanners at the Deployment Processing Center and each LSA to ensure traveler safety, accountability, and a seamless process for departure to the U.S.

“The experiences gained from our interactions with travelers, and working alongside Service Members and DOD civilians that we traditionally do not work with has been invaluable,” said Rivera. “Our team has become closer and more confident in each other after persevering through this daunting yet rewarding time.”

Operation Allies Welcome and Task Force Home support has postponed many regular operations and called on individuals to take on different or additional duties. Maintaining a “never quit” attitude and a team player mentality are key factors to mission success, according to Rivera.

“This mission requires long hours, flexibility, patience, and a positive attitude,” he acknowledged. “People in dire need require our support, and we must be on our A game day in and day out to provide it.

“We want to help every traveler as much as we possibly can. We are aware of the harsh conditions the majority of the travelers were subject to and understand how difficult their current situation is.”

During a regular crafting activity at ROB, Afghan children are taught how to make flowers out of paper. They happily give their creations away to U.S. Soldiers and volunteers—blooming where they are planted.