Commentary

July 3, 2014

Thrive while you’re here, feel proud after leaving

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Col. Jon Braga,
Commander United States Army Garrison at Fort Irwin

Col
If you’ve recently arrived to the National Training Center and Fort Irwin – welcome! And if you are departing to serve at another great duty station – feel proud of having contributed to the mission of maintaining and strengthening our nation’s security.

As you settle in to your new home and place of duty here during this PCS season, I would like to offer my encouragement and support as commander of United States Army Garrison at Fort Irwin. Our remote location does not have to indicate that you will be isolated, because Fort Irwin has a lot to offer in activities and networks of people who thrive and are willing to share their time, enthusiasm and experiences. Whatever you’re into there’s probably a small group or function or community event that may appeal to you.

I would like to reassure you the schools for our children – state-run schools – are great. The test scores prove it. We have three district schools on post, with the high school at Yermo, and different units from this post sponsor each school. My children attend all the schools on post and I, with our school liaison officer, attend the district board meetings once a month. School does start early, in August, but it also gets out in May.

There are also many extracurricular activities for the kids. There are several programs such as SKIESUnlimited, the Edge program, youth sports, the Middle School and Teen Center, and currently, we have summer camps underway. Check in with FMWR and Parent Central to get your child signed up. There is still time. We even have a British soccer camp at the end of this month.

If you are the active type – or even if you’re not, but are ready to get out – you will find that activities and events are plentiful. Our Outdoor Recreation department, led by Ed Iden, can get you involved with land sailing or make you an expert at the airsoft range on post. His department also manages the gun club, clay pigeon shooting, and the paintball range (urban scenario coming soon). He just showcased new Razors and all terrain vehicles at our “Red and White Boom” celebration that will be available for use through Outdoor Rec.

Other programs such as Family Readiness Groups (every unit has one) and the Family Advocacy Program can help you with becoming part of a network or social support structure. The FAP program has created the “Coffee Break,” which meets once a week. Child care is available during the meetings, which sometimes includes guest speakers.

It’s important a family remains resilient. And sometimes you need those support networks. It’s important to know you’re not alone and that there may be other people going through the same challenges as you and they may pass on different tips and recommendations; or maybe they can be a sounding board if you need a relief valve to talk to somebody. Some people find it through our Chapel services, some people find it through the Coffee Break, some people find it through recreational groups that their tied to, but everybody needs an outlet, so we try to provide as many different options as possible.

For those Soldiers and Families who are leaving Fort Irwin – thank you for your time and thank you for your service. You have had a personal contribution, a personal sacrifice, to the readiness of the U.S. Army and other military forces in a time of war. You’re truly part of the national security apparatus. This is a unique post where everything here revolves around supporting the rotation. Preparing brigades for combat or a global response mission is what we do. You have been integral to supporting that mission.

For those arriving – it’s a great place to live, it’s a community of choice and there really is a lot to do here. Be active, be pro-active, get out there and seek those opportunities and if you have an idea to bring something to Fort Irwin, and if it’s feasible and it’s sustainable, then we want to know about it. Contact me or Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Esmurria. We want to hear about it. Your voice counts here.




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