By Sharilyn Wells/ParaglideOctober 22, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Soldiers from the 249th Quartermaster Company were surprised when they came home to freshly renovated barracks on Sept. 22.
The company returned from a year-long deployment to see their old, shabby barracks had new floors, fresh paint and new furniture.
"This was the first time a whole company deployed and came back to the same barracks," said Fred Peterson, who works with the First Sergeant Barracks Program. "We thought it would be nice for the Soldiers to come home to brand new, clean barracks."
The goal of FSBP is to improve barracks management and free the time of first sergeants who now are able to focus on training for their Soldiers. The 249th QM FSBP is responsible for nine sets of barracks, all in which have been renovated or are in the process of being renovated.
When the Soldiers left their barracks a year ago, there were holes in the walls, the floors were in horrible condition, mold grew throughout the rooms, and the ceilings had multiple water stains.
"The barracks have gone through a total transformation," said 1st Sgt. Cheryl Brackett, who was the rear detachment first sergeant while the company was deployed. "The mold was removed, the walls were patched up and painted, brand new floors were installed and the building received a new roof."
The barracks room consists of two private bedrooms and a joint common area with a small kitchenette and bathroom. The rooms also got new furniture, blinds, and curtains. The bathrooms were refurbished with new sinks, fixtures, and cabinets. Some windows were replaced and all electrical sockets were replaced. The before and after appearance of the rooms surprised the Soldiers upon their return, especially since they had no clue what was going on at home while they were at war.
"Everything that needed worked on was taken out and (revamped)," said Peterson. "The barracks are about 12 years old and hadn't had anything done to it. It was just time."
Upon approval for the renovation, Graham Construction was awarded the contract and took about 60 days to complete the building. The barracks' recreational room also received a face-lift with fresh paint, buffed floors, and new gym equipment. The recreational room is also awaiting new furniture still in the approval process.
"I think they really appreciated coming home to a clean barracks," said Brackett. "It was nice to have the Soldiers see the change (in condition) and the changes that will follow."
Another nice surprise awaiting the Soldiers were fresh bed sheets and a gift basket filled with toiletries and a fridge with water and soda. With the sponsorship of Picerne Military Housing, local dentistry centers, Will's Grill, and Hooters, Sheree Sumrall, an employee at Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, teamed up with Peterson's wife, Kay, and gave the Soldiers a 'room-warming' gift to welcome them back.
"It made us feel real warm to see the Soldiers excited to come back to their rooms - (which now looked) kind of like hotel rooms with mints on their pillows," said Sumrall. "It really made them realize that, yes, they really were missed."
The sheets for the Soldiers' beds were donated through the organization, Fayetteville Cares, from Fayetteville State University students.
"Married Soldiers come home to hugs and kisses," said Brackett. "But single Soldiers who don't have Family near-by come home to nothing. We wanted to make sure they felt welcomed and cared for."
Peterson admits that all he had to do was mention to his wife that the Soldiers were coming home. She got a hold of Sumrall and the ball began rolling.
"That's what (FSBP) is here for, to make sure everything is well kept and in better condition for the single Soldiers returning to the barracks," said Peterson.
The gift baskets and new sheets were just the icing on the cake for the Soldiers of 249th QM.