FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – The third week of September is nationally recognized as Security Officer Appreciation Week, and U.S. Army Garrison Alaska leaders recently met with the guards at Fort Wainwright to thank them for their hard work.
Garrison Commander Col. Jason Cole described how the civilian guards are the first line of defense for the installation. He also noted they are the first interaction most people will have to start their day or their first impression of the Army and that their behavior and professionalism have a vast impact.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ruben Murillo said, “The dedication that our security guards have to the security and defense of our installation is immeasurable. The protection of our soldiers, families and civilians has always been and will always be their number 1 priority.”
The guard force runs operations at the Visitor Center and issues approximately 4,000 passes each month for visitors and temporary or contract workers. All individuals requiring or wanting access to the installation who do not have a Department of Defense identification card must first go to the VC to obtain a pass.
“We’ll vet people, run their backgrounds, and make sure they’re upstanding citizens and allow them to come on the federal installation,” said Guard Capt. Terrell Proctor.
The guards also manage security at Fort Wainwright’s gates, which are staffed by a combination of trained soldiers from a designated unit and the civilian security guards. Together they scan over 250,000 ID cards every month.
“At the ACPs we’re the first line of defense,” Proctor said. “We work hand in hand with the unit mission tasking soldiers. We’re looking for any discrepancies with individuals trying to gain access to the installation and trying to keep the civilians and active duty soldiers safe and all their families that live here.”
Proctor described how people often come to the gate or VC with incorrect documentation for access or with missing documentation for their vehicles, such as expired registration or no insurance, and if it cannot be resolved, they are denied access. He explained that the guards can assist the visitors with getting waivers in some cases, but they need to be approved by the leadership of the Directorate of Emergency Services or sometimes the garrison commander.
The guards interact with a wide range of people under circumstances that vary daily. The variety is something that Guard Sgt. Blanca Strickland embraces.
“We do everything,” Strickland said. “We check IDs, we vet people, we write passes, we greet people. I have a lot of fun. My job, believe it or not, is very interesting.”
Strickland has worked at Fort Wainwright for 15 years, and her enthusiasm for her work and professionalism are well known across the garrison community. On a recent garrison social media post about the guards that included a photo of Strickland and fellow guards, one person commented, “We [heart emoji] Ms. Strickland!!! When you want simply the best, no one is better!!!”
Another comment stated “Strickland!!!!!! Absolutely the best and most professional Security Officer I’ve had the pleasure to work with.”
The Directorate of Emergency Services is currently hiring additional security guards. Interested individuals can apply through the listing on USAJobs.gov.