By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleOctober 13, 2011
Soldiers, civilians and a senator enjoyed food and entertainment in the Warrior Transition Battalion Headquarters to welcome new servicemembers to the installation, Oct. 6.
The "Welcome to the Neighborhood Party," hosted by Citizens Helping Heroes, allowed warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to be introduced to the Fort Belvoir community.
The event also honored Silver Star service banner day, a resolution honoring wounded, ill and dying servicemembers.
"Everybody cares," said Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R), who said all Americans appreciate the sacrifice and service of Soldiers.
Brown attended the event to show his support for wounded warriors and Fort Belvoir's dedication to healing servicemembers.
"I think we have a social contract and obligation to do the right thing," Brown said.
Brown also attended to watch his daughter, American Idol contestant Ayla Brown, perform.
Ayla was one of three live acts at the event. There was also a moon bounce, cotton candy, Washington Redskins Cheerleaders and free food.
Soldiers and civilians alike enjoyed the atmosphere which especially catered to freeing Soldier's minds from intensive treatment.
"They've sacrificed so much," said Chris Thompson, co-executive director for Citizens Helping Heroes. "They really need American citizens outside the military to show them the love and support they deserve for all the sacrifices they've made."
Citizens Helping Heroes was founded in 2002 by a group of civilians who aim to make sure Soldiers' feel appreciated for their service. The National Capital Region based non-profit host events such as these for Soldiers to "entertain and take care of the troops and their
Families," Thompson said.
The organization wanted to host this event after learning Walter Reed was closing as a way to welcome the new Soldiers to the area.
"I encourage more Americans to get involved," Thompson said. "We're in the middle of a war and they need our support 24/7."
Linda Rasnake, WTB Command Family Readiness Support assistant, helped organized the event. She said she plans events four times a year to help give Warriors and their Families time to relax from treatment. Each event is similar and she holds one every season.
Rasnake said Family gatherings provide entertainment for Warriors who spend many of their days recuperating.
"We have to have a more relaxed atmosphere and this is the best way to do it," Rasnake said. "It's a lot of fun."
Rasnake, who came from Walter Reed, is appreciative of the new facility and the garrison.
Warriors transitioned from Walter Reed to Belvoir in August. They, along with Soldiers already in the WTB, live in the recently completed Wounded Warrior barracks.
The barracks includes 144, two-person suites for a total capacity of 288. The suites include a shared washer and dryer, kitchen and common area, as well as private bedrooms and bathrooms and a flat screen television and computer for each warrior.
Brown, who also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard Judge Advocate General corps, said treatment facilities such as Belvoir are critical to help transition Wounded Warriors.
"If you can do that transition thoughtfully and compassionately then the people that are here get better quicker and that ultimately saves money, saves time, and protects the Family unit more," Brown said.
Brown said his message to wounded Soldiers would be to speak up whenever they have a problem.
"That's what I tell my kids, what I tell my constituents and what I'll tell these guys," Brown said. "Speak up, if we don't know we can't fix it."