Troopers from 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, will be returning soon to Fort Hood and the family readiness groups are ensuring each soldier receives a warm welcome.
Spouses gathered to prepare single soldiers’ barracks Feb. 18, ensuring each came home to a room full of all the necessities.
“It’s a little something to say thank you and welcome home,” said senior battalion family readiness group advisor Lori Brooks. “Just enough to get them through a couple days.”
Brooks led about 10 spouses around the 2nd Brigade barracks, moving quickly to fill each room with goody bags stuffed with snacks and shower caddies overflowing with toiletries.
The group made beds with fresh sheets, folded towels and hung up brand-new shower curtains in about 75 rooms for more than 150 soldiers.
A spouse who lives and teaches in Tennessee had students make cards and letters for the soldiers, affixed to each bedroom door.
“It’s really neat to see what they wrote, expressing gratitude,” Brooks said.
The group began collecting supplies in November and worked to put the treat bags together the week prior.
“It’s just a little piece of home. A lot of single soldiers come home without family (here),” said Liz Bartley, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery family readiness group leader.
Bartley had plenty of knowledge to share with fellow spouses, as this was her husband’s sixth deployment. “It was hard at times. This was the first time to Afghanistan for a lot of (soldiers).”
Dealing with the deployment has been familiar territory for Jeralyn Ditlevson, Alpha Battery family readiness group leader. This is her husband’s fourth deployment and she has been through two of her own.
“We’ve got our routine going,” she said.
The biggest challenge this go-round came from supporting the unit’s youngest members.
“We have a lot of younger wives. It was their first-time deployment and first-time pregnancies,” Ditlevson said.
Alpha Battery has had the most babies born in the battalion in the past nine months.
“We had one born last week and one due right when the soldiers are scheduled to come home. I’m helping them through that, keeping them strong. We’re on the countdown now,” Ditlevson said.
Several mothers of soldiers donated baskets of treats to share.
“A lot of single soldier moms like to donate. They’re informed and involved from far away,” Brooks said.
Ensuring families members near and far feel connected is one of the challenges for family readiness group volunteers.
Now, all that’s left is to wait. The week before the unit’s return, the spouses will hang banners and prepare to welcome soldiers.
“We’re one step closer,” Brooks said.