Soldiers residing in Fort Irwin's barracks may have gotten a comfortable change to their living quarters this week.

Seven hundred new mattresses were installed in barracks rooms during the week of January 23 as part of the First Sergeants Barracks Program, an Armywide initiative that aims to improve quality of life for single Soldiers by streamlining the management of their quarters. The program was implemented at Fort Irwin in October 2011.

Replacing barracks mattresses is a top quality of life issue for the program, said Jay Kelker, single Soldier housing chief. All of the mattresses being replaced were eight years old and lacked mattress covers, leaving Soldiers exposed to any dirt or germs left behind by previous residents. The new mattresses come with covers, which Soldiers will be required to wash as part of their out-processing.

"The ones we're replacing really needed to go," Kelker said. "This is going to be a big improvement. The next Soldiers coming in to the barracks here will be able to have a clean mattress waiting for them."

Sgt. David Samuel, chief administrative assistant of the Single Soldiers Housing Office, which was established in October by the First Sergeants Barracks Program, said the new mattresses would be a very welcome improvement.

"The Soldiers will greatly appreciate having these new mattresses," he said. "It's like Christmas."

The new mattresses will also improve quality of life by providing uniformity, Kelker said. The previous mattresses varied in length and type, while the new ones will all be the appropriate size for the beds in the barracks.

All barracks rooms at Fort Irwin are slated to eventually receive the new mattresses, Kelker said. He and other staff members at the Single Soldier Housing Office asked for input from single Soldiers on what they would like to see in their barracks rooms, and the mattresses were a top issue, he said.

"We're listening to single Soldiers," Kelker said. "This is just one more example of the First Sergeants Barracks Program working."

For more information on the First Sergeants Barracks Program, visit and click on the Single Soldier Housing link under the Newcomers tab, or visit the Fort Irwin Single Soldiers Housing Office Facebook page. The Single Soldiers Housing Office is located in Bldg. 385 on Fifth Street at Barstow Road.