By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampJune 17, 2011
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (June 16, 2011) -- Shirley Hemenway never passes up the opportunity to talk about her son, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ronald John Hemenway.
Hemenway was killed nearly 10 years ago in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, leaving behind a wife and two children. His mother in Shawnee, Kan., became involved in the Northeast Kansas Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers. Shirley Hemenway visited the Fort Leavenworth Resiliency Center during its grand opening June 9 to share information about her son and the network of people who have helped her.
A special room for people like Shirley Hemenway, the Center of Valor and Remembrance, allows community members to pay respect and remember fallen service members.
Sharon Adams, acting Survivor Outreach Services specialist, said some of the survivors may not be from Fort Leavenworth, but they are welcome to share pictures of their fallen service member. ACS provides an 8-by-10-inch picture frame for families to place in the center.
“It’s just a place to come and reflect and realize they’re not alone,” Adams said.
The SOS room is one of many services available in the new Fort Leavenworth Resiliency Center, 600 Thomas Ave., which celebrated its grand opening June 9. The Resiliency Center is home to Army Community Service, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the Equal Opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity offices and more. The center has several classrooms and on-site child care.
Garrison Commander Col. Wayne Green said the building was originally a hospital when it opened in 1902, then turned into offices during the 1980s. When office workers moved out for building renovations two years ago, Green said the Garrison team wanted to use the building to better serve families.
“We realized that our whole post and, indeed, our surrounding community should and must be that place that builds the elements of strength necessary to sustain the Soldiers and families we love to serve,” he said.
Green also said a Health Promotion Council found that people were having a difficult time finding all the Army support services on post. Leadership staff decided these services " such as registration for youth activities, parenting classes, suicide prevention classes and volunteer services " could be in one building.
“We might reach more people if we make a convenient, one-stop shop instead of returning Garrison Headquarters to this site,” Green said.
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, said it’s important for the Army that families have a chance to rebuild.
“Since the early days of the American Revolution, our Army’s strength has always been its people,” he said. “However, this unique trait that has come to define the character of our Army is not guaranteed. It must be continually cultivated and maintained.”
Caslen said he understood the last 10 years have been stressful to families. Feelings of loneliness, loss and stress can build up over time.
“It is important that we possess the skills to manage and mitigate their effects,” Caslen said. “But where do you go to acquire these skills? Who can you talk to? This is precisely what the center is designed to do " providing us the positive thinking and the coping and the lifestyle skills needed to take care of ourselves and those around us.”
Two service members from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion, said they thought the Resiliency Center would make it easier for community members to find services.
Sgt. Emmett Morgan said he had a lot of trouble when he first arrived on Fort Leavenworth, even with people offering directions.
“You spend 30 minutes to an hour trying to find something in the same block,” he said. “You’ve got buildings behind buildings.”
Sgt. Tomika Coffey said she could now tell members of her unit to look in the building next to the chapel complex.
“A Soldier usually knows where things are, but now it’s easier for family members,” she said.
Army wife Michelle Steger came to the Resiliency Center during its grand opening to find out more about becoming a residential mayor on post. Before she left, she had learned more about many other services provided throughout the center.
“The Army offers so much to Soldiers and families,” she said. “To have it all under one roof, it’s incredible and I’m very appreciative of this.”
The Resiliency Center’s information and referral is available at 684-2800 or by visiting the center from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.