FORT HOOD, Texas - Texas state legislators and their staff attended the Texas State Legislative Day here, Jan. 20.
Hosted by Fort Hood leaders and the Killeen Chamber of Commerce, the event was held to familiarize attendees with Fort Hood and the Army. Staffers and legislators were exposed to the many resources on Fort Hood that contribute toward the preparation of Soldiers for the demanding and complex requirements of combat.
“This was meaningful because I always knew my sister was in the military, but I never knew what their personal life, day-to-day, could (be) like a little bit,” Jayelynn Bordeaux, a legislative intern for Rep. Armando Martinez, Texas State House District 39, said. “I don’t remember what she was in, but just seeing (everything), I had no clue about all the machines that they work with. And so, just seeing what they do on a day-to-day basis (was meaningful).”
This day-long event started out with an overview briefing about the installation, watching a People First Center interactive skit about peer pressure between Soldiers and how to intervene, and then seeing an aerial tour of the installation from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
“This base is really large in size, and it’s really interesting to see all the different (infrastructures),” shared Rep. Christina Morales, Texas State House District 145. “I saw a playground; I saw apartments and I saw homes. I saw some development. It was really heartwarming to see.”
Attendees were then given the opportunity to see military equipment and vehicles featuring an M1A2 Abrams tank, AH-64 Apache helicopter, MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system and a M2A3 Bradley. Soldiers were on hand at the static displays to explain what each piece of equipment is used for, how they maintain the equipment and the significance of it in combat.
“Interacting with Soldiers, saying 'Hi,' getting to kind of see ... what their background is and then going inside of the vehicles is really cool,” said Olivia Lasater, a staff member for Rep. DeWayne Burns, Texas State House District 58. “I’ve never been inside of a military vehicle. That kind of took you off into ... not another world, but he really gives you an insight of what it’d be like.”
For most of the attendees, this was their first time on the installation, which fostered an environment filled with questions.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching people about my job,” said Spc. Nicholas Frankovich, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “It’s always been fun. If I had to describe (it) in one word: entertaining. It was a very entertaining time having everybody around, having everybody learn. Just watching people, eyes wide open and be like, ‘Oh, this is awesome,’ brings a smile on my face.”
It also cultivated an aura of excitement, as many people expressed surprise and joy at what they were seeing on the installation.
“I represent Texas House District 145, and Vanessa Guillen was one of my constituents. Her family still lives in my district. So, it was really important for me to come here today because I wanted to see firsthand what Fort Hood is all about,” Morales expressed. “As a person who represents that district, I’m very concerned about the safety of our servicemen and women. So, I’m happy to see that there have been improvements and I’m happy that we agree that there’s still so much more that needs to be done. And I’m optimistic that we will get there.”
From there, the legislators and staff met with III Armored Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe and representatives of the Central Texas area for lunch. It was at this time where Bernabe discussed Fort Hood capabilities, infrastructure, the Central Texas community and the needs of Fort Hood.
Bernabe also expressed his gratitude to the state legislators, their staff and community leaders for their part in ensuring, and preserving, Fort Hood remains the Great Place.
“Thanks for spending time with us today,” Bernabe said. “It’s really a treat for us. Our Soldiers love to talk about what they do. They love to demonstrate their expertise as members of the profession of arms and as members of the III Armored Corps. So, thanks for allowing them that chance. It’s great to see you and tell you what we do. We are proud to be a part of this community and a part of the state of Texas.”
Following lunch, legislators and staff participated in various training simulators, including medical simulations and close-combat tactical trainers. These simulators provided an opportunity to gain hands-on experience for attendees, as well as drive home what Soldiers do on a daily basis.
The entire day was overall an opportunity to showcase the installation, both in terms of the capabilities of the Soldiers stationed here and what Fort Hood contributes to the Central Texas community.
“It’s not this thing that we don’t have access to; it’s right here in our state,” Morales commented. “And we’re very proud of the servicemen and women who live here, work here on this base, raise their families here and protect us so that we feel safe in our everyday lives.”