With the summer break coming to an end for schools around Central Texas, not only will students and teachers be heading back to school but also the soldiers that support them through Fort Hood’s Adopt-a-School program.

Soldiers from the 41st Fires Brigade will once again be volunteering at the local schools the unit has adopted to help in any way that they can.

The program serves eight school districts in Central Texas surrounding Fort Hood, including Killeen, Copperas Cove, Belton, Florence, Gatesville, Lampasas, Salado and Temple.

J.J. Johnson, the school liaison officer, said the Adopt-a-School program was started in the mid 1990s, and has played an integral role in maintaining the Army’s relationship with local communities.

Each of the brigade’s three battalions has adopted a school in the Killeen school district. First Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment adopted Manor Middle School, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment adopted Meadows Elementary School and 589th Brigade Support Battalion adopted Hay Branch Elementary School.

“Our interaction with the community is very important because it lets our soldiers see another reason why they serve,” said Col. William McRae, brigade commander. “It also allows the youths and the teachers to get a glimpse of our soldiers, not as they see them on TV but as real people who are serving their country.”

In 2012, battalions from 41st Fires helped their adoptive schools with events such as field days, bowling, chaperoning field trips and hosting learning events.

The battalions will continue to provide help to their schools through the 2013-2014 school year.

“Our community is very happy to have the unit involved,” said Brenda Martinez, principal of Hay Branch Elementary School.

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