FORT SILL, Okla. (Aug. 28, 2023) — Several Fort Sill Senior spouses, including Lori Brooks, wife of Maj. Gen. Winston Brooks, commanding general, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, embarked on a comprehensive tour hosted by the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Sill on Thursday, Aug. 17. The tour aimed to provide these influential spouses an in-depth understanding of the services available to military families.
"We have so many incredible programs and services for military families, and it is important that we get the word out so they can take advantage of them," Julia Sibilla, Fort Sill Deputy Garrison Commander, emphasized. "Providing senior spouses with an opportunity to see what these are all about, is an important part of connecting them."
The day began at the Patriot Club, where, after a brief video introducing the Garrison, the group headed to the Welcome Center in building 4700. There, they learned about plans to make the center a friendlier and more comfortable place for the community. They also met with the ID Card section chief and the Retirement and Casualty Assistance manager.
At the Army Community Service (ACS), Ken Lewis, AER director, highlighted Army Emergency Relief's recent accolade, winning AER best large Installation award. The group also met program managers from Child and Youth Services, Employment Readiness, Volunteer Program and Services and the Family Advocacy/New Parent Support program.
The last stop in building 4700 was Survivor Outreach Services (SOS), a program that provides long-term support to surviving families of fallen soldiers. A poignant moment was felt at SOS, when the group reflected on the photos of fallen service members in the Hall of Remembrance and discussed the Gold Star program. The Gold Star program and its associated services is to let the families of fallen soldiers know that their sacrifices are remembered and honored, and that they remain a part of the larger military family even after their loved one's passing.
The tour also covered the Cooper Child Development Center, where they were informed about its accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Suzanne Anderson, Fort Sill Family Child Care director, introduced the group to the Family Child Care (FCC) program. Ximena Cerquera, an FCC provider, shared her personal experience, highlighting the program's flexibility.
"The best thing about FCC for Soldiers is it provides different programs and care, from full-time care to part-time or hourly care. We do extended care, simply after the hours the normal programs are closed, as well as weekends and overnights," said Suzanne Anderson, FCC director, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "There's also mission-related extended care for single Soldiers or dual military families who have to find childcare on those off times so they can still focus on the mission."
The group's journey included a stop at the Old Cavalry Post Community Center. Here, the spouses engaged in a valuable question-and-answer session with Amber Moser, operations director at Corvias, and Romeo Montez III, supervisory housing management specialist. Montez emphasized the Military Housing Office's dedication to ensuring service members and their families have access to well-maintained, safe, and quality homes.
Fort Sill’s first polo team played on Lucas Field (Polo Field) in 1863. The tour included a stop at the Polo Clubhouse built in 1910 that served as the official team’s clubhouse. Today it can be reserved as a venue for events.
The group was impressed with the USO, which provides a place for Soldiers to play cards, play dominoes, play video games, watch a game, and hang out with their peers in a safe environment, giving them a place to relieve stress and relax. A few Soldiers were doing just that, sneaking a nap on the comfortable furniture. Everything in the center is free to our service members.
A stop at the 18-hole Fort Sill Golf Course gave the senior spouses a refreshing break amidst the lush greens and well-maintained fairways. The group enjoyed their brief time there, taking in the serene environment and perhaps even envisioning a few rounds of golf in the future.
“I think this tour has been great!” Lori Brooks said. “It gives us the opportunity to see how organizations at Fort Sill, such as the USO, CYS, MWR, ACS and Military Housing are taking care of and supporting our soldiers, marines, families and civilians.”
One of the tour's highlights was meeting Tina Parker Emhoolah, Quanah Parker's Great-Great-Granddaughter, at the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum. Emhoolah, known for her advocacy for preserving the Comanche Nation's heritage, warmly welcomed the spouses. She shared her journey as a military spouse, emphasizing the importance of cultural preservation. Dressed in traditional boot moccasins, Emhoolah also showcased a Native American Dance and provided insights into the museum's Native American artifacts.
Sarah J. Gersper, Acting Director, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, summed up the tour's intent, "The goal is to ensure spouses are informed and equipped to navigate military life, making the most of available resources."