By Rebecca Ellison, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 29, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Home-comings are a busy time. As groups of Army spouses ready themselves and their families for the return of more than 3,400 Soldiers, many are working to make redeployment a memorable time for the entire battalion family, including their single Soldiers.
Armed with decorated pillowcases, banners, bedding and toiletries donated by schools, churches and businesses as far away as New York, the spouses of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment (FA), gathered at E-Quad, here, ready to put "Operation Headrest" into full swing, Sept. 12.
And their mission' To make ready the barracks rooms for more than 100 returning single Soldiers assigned to 3-7th FA.
Debbie Waters, wife of Lt. Col. Glenn Waters, commander, 3-7th FA, is leading the charge for "Operation Headrest," which she said was initially started by the previous commander's wife in 2007.
"When many of our friends heard my husband Glenn was deployed, they would ask 'What can I do to help'' or 'What can I send''" she explained.
She immediately began recruiting people to help reinstate the program.
Waters reached out to friends in both Hawaii and her hometown in New York and said her request was met with an overwhelming response.
"We started out just thinking of our battalion, but when the first donation included 208 pillowcases, we decided that we had enough to decorate and give out to anyone who needed them," she said.
Each pillow will have a card attached that reads: "As you lay your head down, in the quiet of the night and the safety of home, know that you are honored, appreciated and truly a hero. Thank you for laying your life on the line for our freedom."
In addition to the pillowcases, decorated by children at schools from Wahiawa to New York, 3-7th FA spouses are distributing goody bags that they hope will make Soldiers comfortable in their first few days home.
"The women are making up the beds with linens and pillows, hanging shower curtains, and distributing goody bags that we hope will get them through the first 24-36 hours until they are able to go out and shop on their own," she said.
The 3-7th FA spouses aren't the only ones happy to help make the transition an easier one for single Soldiers.
"We received donations, not only from families of Soldiers, but also from a lot of civilians in different communities," she said.
Other military spouses said their participation in the program is adding to the anticipation of the homecoming for everyone involved.
"It feels really good. It's a lot of fun knowing how happy these Soldiers are going to be when they come home and they see what's been done for them," said Francis Nixon, wife of Sgt. Robert Nixon.
In the coming weeks, the Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, will be returning to Hawaii after a yearlong deployment to Iraq.