By Amy Guckeen Tolson, USAG RedstoneMay 19, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--It's safety and security. It's convenience and camaraderie. It's home.
For the 1,062 people that live within military housing on Redstone Arsenal, Redstone Communities isn't just any ordinary housing community - it's the place they deliberately chose to call home for the amenities and peace of mind it provides.
"We honestly try to fulfill all their needs and make it a comfortable space," said Brenda Haynes, community director for Redstone Communities.
Those needs range from not having to worry about mowing the front yard to knowing their children are safe and secure.
Playing outside without the watchful eye of mom and dad was never an option for Ishmael Kambhampati, 8, before his parents, Staff Sgt. Randy and Jennifer, made the decision to move to Redstone Communities two years ago. Whether it was at their previous homes in Hazel Green or off Sparkman Drive, someone always had to be watching the then 6-year-old. For the safety of their children, which now includes Jonathen, 20 months, and Melissa Louise, one month, the Kambhampatis chose military housing on post, where their children are not only more notably secure, but surrounded by other children in the same boat.
"We don't have to worry about the neighborhoods too much," Jennifer said. "He can always run outside and play."
And so can Mom and Dad. At their home in the city, Randy wouldn't have dreamed of going for an after work run or walk through the neighborhood.
"The neighborhoods we were able to afford at the time, that was not an option," Randy said.
On post, the Kambhampatis not only find time for family and fitness on the walking trails, but are also able to walk to the Commissary for quick grocery trips, or to the Redstone Communities Welcome Center to say hello to the office ladies and grab a cookie. Randy, a gate guard on the Arsenal, enjoys the shortest of commutes which he makes either by bike or on foot when the weather is nice.
"I can walk for hours around base," said Jennifer, double stroller in hand with Jonathen and Melissa Louise strapped in nice and tight.
Times have changed since retired Master Sgt. Edsel Hogan and his family lived on the Arsenal in the late 1980s and early '90s. Displaced by the April 27 tornadoes, Hogan and his wife moved into housing on post, surprised to see how different it was from their younger days.
"I've seen the changes since I was a Soldier," Hogan said. "It's awesome. Compared to the outside communities, it ranks right up there."
From the yard work provided by Redstone Communities to the upkeep of the homes, which Hogan said don't even look like military housing, the transition to privatized housing has helped residents feel like they're part of both the Arsenal community and the community outside post, according to the Army civilian.
"If you had a child join the military, and they were stationed out here, they would have to be proud to drive by and say, 'I live here,'" Hogan said.
The improvements on housing are so noticeable, that if he could do it again, Hogan might just have a permanent address on post.
"If I didn't already own a home and was moving to the area, would I live on base again' In a heartbeat," Hogan said.