By Lisa R. RhodesNovember 15, 2010
Secretary of the Army John McHugh called the grand opening of Fort MeadeAca,!a,,cs Warrior in Transition Solider and Family Assistance Center facility Aca,!A"a very unique achievementAca,!A? during the ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 10.
Aca,!A"This is the embodiment of what can happen when the U.S. Army, the military, and the community work together,Aca,!A? he said.
McHugh, Installation Commander Daniel L. Thomas, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Rep. John Sarbanes and other distinguished guests cut the official ribbon on the $1.5 million project, which consists of two modular buildings that house the SFAC and Warrior Transition Unit administrative offices.
The facilities, located at 85th Medical Battalion Road, were funded through a public and private initiative led by the Fort Meade Alliance and the United Service Organization of Metropolitan Washington. The Alliance and the USO raised $135,000 in three months to provide furnishings for the SFAC.
Aca,!A"Without hesitation, they stepped forward and took on what was truly a great mission,Aca,!A? Thomas said of the commitment of the Alliance and the USO. Aca,!A"Without either of these organizations, what you see today would not have happened.Aca,!A?
The SFAC, in partnership with the Warrior Transition Unit at the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, coordinates resources and provides comprehensive services to Warriors and their families in an environment that fosters physical, mental and spiritual healing.
The WTU, which currently serves more than 170 Soldiers, helps them prepare to return to their units, reclassify to other Military Occupational Specialties or transition to life outside of the military.
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, McHugh, Thomas, Cardin, Ruppersberger and Sarbanes toured the new 4,500-square-foot SFAC building, which includes a 20-seat reception area, a child activity room, a handicapped accessible kitchen and two accessible bathrooms. There is also a conference and training room and office space for social services, career and financial readiness advisors.
The WTU administrative building, also 4,500-square-feet, provides office space for the squad and platoon leaders who are part of the unit's cadre.
Aca,!A"I think this is the best way to start our Veterans Day celebration,Aca,!A? Cardin said in his remarks during the ceremony. Aca,!A"To make it clear to our returning warriors that we will do everything we can do to make your transition back to the civilian life as smooth as possible and provide the services that we said we would provide.Aca,!A?
Guests at the one-hour event included Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general; Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst; commander of the Military District of Washington and Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region; Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commander of the U.S. Army North Regional Medical Command/Walter Reed Army Medical Center; and Debbie Alexander, wife of Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command. Soldiers from the WTU also attended.
In his remarks, Ruppersberger called the event Aca,!A"a great day,Aca,!A? and said the new facilities reflect the nation's obligation to take care of the service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sarbanes praised the wounded warriors who attended the ribbon-cutting.
Aca,!A"You are the inspiration for what we are celebrating,Aca,!A? Sarbanes said.
Elaine Rogers, president and CEO of the USO of Metropolitan Washington, called the opportunity to serve Wounded Warriors and their families an honor and a privilege.
Aca,!A"We are excited that we will be able to expand our programs here with the SFAC,Aca,!A? Rogers said.
During the close of the ceremony, Rosemary Budd, president of the Fort Meade Alliance, said her organization is committed to providing additional support to the SFAC and WTU.
Aca,!A"We're ready to take on our next mission,Aca,!A? Budd said. Aca,!A"This is the least we can do to thank you for your sacrifice and service to our nation.Aca,!A?