Photos and Story by Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, III Corps Public Affairs
(Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 23 2021)— On the largest single-day of volunteering, which is known as make a difference day, III Corps and Fort Hood leadership, Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), Soldiers and community members gathered at the Marvin Leath Visitor Center to clean up TJ Mills Road, the entrance to Fort Hood.
The event kicked off make a difference day in conjunction with the second annual mentorship program started by retired 1st Sergeant Fernando Fernandez, vice president of Fort Hood Community National Bank and CTFH Chapter of ASUA committee chair. He developed the mentorship following visit from then Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy’s visit to central Texas.
“This is a part of our professional mentorship program,” said Fernandez. We started this to help build a bridge between the community and Fort Hood. Yes it’s a clean up but it’s more than just a cleanup. It’s about uniting.
He said there is a large percentage of Soldiers who live off post so it is about building up the community.
Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur "Cliff" Burgoyne of III Corps and Fort Hood, thanked everyone for coming out and discussed last years event and how well members of the community did.
“We don’t own any of the road whatsoever outside of Fort Hood,” said Burgoyne.
He said the local community determined it was too dangerous to clean the road outside the gate but they figured out a way.
“It’s a chance to communicate, collaborate, and meet people from the community in conjunction with Soldiers and family members on Fort Hood,” said retired maj. gen. Ken Cox, vice president of the local ASUA chapter. This started a year ago. Fernando Fernandez is responsible for putting this together.
He said a few years ago the entrance was dirty and filled with trash. There was trash there was furniture.
“A little pride in our organization, a little bit of pride in Fort Hood, we made a decision in conjunction with command sgt. maj. Burgoyne, to get out here and clean up our entrance. This is round two of that.
He said he wants to make sure first time visitors to Fort Hood are proud of the organization as they come in. The second part of event is mentorship.
“At some point in time, regardless of where you are at in your military career, you are going to take off your military uniform,” said Cox. “You have to think about what you are going to do next. If you see someone that you know is not in the military, talk to them. If you are a civilian here today, partner with a military person today so you can talk to them about life outside the fences of Fort Hood.”
“That's that we need as soldiers,” said Burgoyne. “We get so focused, so tunnel vision on what we do in the army that we kind of loose site on our community out there. Find someone that you don’t know, ask them their name, where they are from and just start a relationship other than your circle.”
The community gathered over 50 bags of trash and cleaned up the area outside the front gate, connected and built relationships, then enjoyed lunch together.