Army general committed to improving quality of life

By John Switzer, Fort Carson Public Affairs OfficeAugust 25, 2023

Army general committed to improving quality of life
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Garrison Commander Col. Sean Brown points out improvements across Fort Carson to Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9 (Installations), Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, from atop Signal Hill Aug. 21, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by John Switzer) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Army general focused on quality of life policy visited Fort Carson Aug. 21-22, 2023, to discuss quality of life and readiness, focusing heavily on on-post housing, deployment and training capacities.

The Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9 (Installations), Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen; Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry III, senior enlisted adviser, ODCS, G-9; and Dee Geise, director, Quality of Life Task Force, ODCS, G-9; visited Fort Carson to meet with installation leaders, Soldiers and civilians to assess installation management governance and effectiveness.

The visit covered Fort Carson by ground and included an aerial tour of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. The first day began with an office call with Col. Buddy Farris, deputy commanding officer for maneuver, 4th Infantry Division.

During their conversation, several topics were discussed that focused on creative ways to reduce energy consumption and still provide Soldiers who don’t drive a way to move about the installation.

After the discussion, a driving tour of the Mountain Post began, starting atop Signal Hill. The scenic overlook provided Vereen with an unobstructed 360-degree view of new facilities, renovations, new housing construction and the new “green energy” flow battery project which is underway.

Vereen was provided an update on the quality of life project in progress for 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers living in the brick barracks along Fort Carson’s banana belt. Mark Hunsicker, Directorate of Public Works’ Engineering Division chief, presented Vereen with the redesign plans that include kitchenettes for enlisted personnel and added personal space for junior NCOs.

“We’re dedicated to providing Soldiers with living spaces that reflect their dedication to service. Quality barracks aren’t just a necessity, they're a reflection of our appreciation for our Soldiers,” Vereen said. “By providing Soldiers with quality housing, we invest in their ability to serve and protect our nation effectively, because the well-being of our Soldiers is directly tied to our mission readiness.”

Perry supported Vereen’s comments regarding the barracks, which will be renovated for the first time since 2000.

“Investing in barracks is investing in our Soldiers’ success stories,” Perry said. “These living spaces are where Soldiers prepare mentally and physically for their missions, warranting our utmost attention. Our ongoing efforts to improve these spaces demonstrate our respect for their sacrifices and our commitment to their quality of life.”

After the barracks discussion, the tour continued with lunch at the Cheyenne Shadow Golf Club where Vereen and Perry recognized garrison employees for their dedication to supporting Soldiers.

Army general committed to improving quality of life
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Joe Wyka, director of Public Works, provides an overview of barracks improvement plans to U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, center, and his senior enlisted adviser, Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry, Aug. 21, 2023, at Fort Carson. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Nicole Griffith) VIEW ORIGINAL

The next stop was at the Cherokee Village family housing site, which is one of three neighborhoods on post where older homes were recently demolished to make way for new homes.

Garrison Commander Col. Sean Brown and Clint Reiss, Directorate of Public Works housing chief, highlighted the noticeable improvements and rise in completed work orders by the private maintenance contractor.

“Soldiers are trained to feel like when they call, the problem will be fixed immediately and when it doesn’t get fixed, they get frustrated,” said Brown.

To address the concerns of Soldiers and their Families, the Fort Carson garrison command team and Balfour Beatty Communities have developed a joint action plan to monitor progress aimed at correcting deficiencies identified in the Tenant Satisfaction Survey.

“Our commitment to improving housing echoes our commitment to our Soldiers and Families,” Vereen said. “We are steadfast in our pursuit of enhancing living conditions and ensuring our Soldiers and their Families know they are valued and cared for. Through ongoing initiatives, we’re addressing housing challenges head-on, demonstrating that we genuinely prioritize their well-being. Prioritizing the feedback and insights of our Soldiers and their Families, to continuously enhance housing policies and initiatives, is essential to our success in this mission.”

Army general committed to improving quality of life
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Clint Reiss, Director of Public Works Housing Chief, briefs Lt. Gen. Vereen on the status of housing projects and maintenance concerns on the Mountain Post, Aug. 21, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by John Switzer) VIEW ORIGINAL

The tour then transitioned to education and child support services, as Geise addressed challenges that continue with meeting and maintaining staffing requirements within Child and Youth Services. However, since the implementation of the employee child care discount, the direct care staff has increases from 56% to 89%. Geise and her team are focused on continuing to increase recruitment and retention, and improving CYS programs for Soldiers and Families.

“Quality child care is an essential resource that allows our Soldiers to perform their duties effectively. Providing safe and quality child care is an investment in both our Soldiers' peace of mind and our operational readiness,” Vereen said. “Just as our Soldiers safeguard the nation, we must safeguard the well-being of their children.”

Perry echoed Vereen.

“Quality child care is a force multiplier. When our Soldiers know their children are well-cared for, they can dedicate themselves fully to their mission, leading to a stronger, more capable force,” Perry said. “Ensuring safe, quality child care options is a direct reflection of our commitment to their Families' welfare.”

Deployment and training were the next on the agenda.

The first brief was at the Fort Carson railhead, which has been identified as not meeting the Army’s current deployment posture. Increased funding has been requested to bring the highly efficient facility up to Army standards.

The training brief took place the following day at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, 150 miles south of the post, where Fort Carson and DOD personnel train and maneuver with small arms and low-impact vehicles. Managers there are requesting a feasibility plan to pursue the decommissioning of a natural gas pipeline that runs down the center of the maneuver site. The pipeline has been in place since the training site was established.

According to Brown, the pipeline could possibly be rerouted without delivery disruption. If this were to take place, it could allow Soldiers an enhanced training environment.

Fort Carson is rated one of the most desirable stations in the military. Regardless of where a Soldier lives, trains, or works, the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9 (Installations), is working tirelessly to ensure Soldiers and Families are welcomed with familiar facilitates, quality housing, family support services and quality of life programs commensurate with their service.