COPPERAS COVE — Soldiers of the Regimental Engineer Squadron, “Pioneer,” spent their Saturday working to make Farm to Market Road 116 litter-free April 8.

On the breezy spring morning, nearly 40 soldiers and their families from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment gathered with gloves on and trash bags in hand to begin their work as part of the Adopt-A-Highway’s Texas Trash-Off. The squadron’s adopted highway consists of an approximately two-mile area off FM 116 near Elijah Road.

Spc. Melissa Miller, a combat medic, coordinated the event. Miller, also the squadron’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative, spent several months ensuring the event would be a success. She credits the BOSS program for getting her interested in volunteer work in the local community.

“I wanted to be a BOSS representative because I wanted to let people know about the different opportunities within Fort Hood and the surrounding communities,” Miller said. “Once I got involved with BOSS, I found out about all the different events and amenities for soldiers, including the volunteer events. I had no idea about all of the opportunities that were available before joining the program. That’s really how I became interested in volunteering.”

Miller also credits her squadron leadership for keeping her interested in community volunteer events. Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Cole, the squadron command sergeant major, suggested the Adopt-A-Highway program to Miller as a potential way for the squadron to give back to the community. Cole gave Miller the guidance to get the program started and she took it from there.

“I thought it sounded like a cool program and a way for the squadron to give back to the local community,” Miller said. “It was also a way to bring members of the squadron together and build camaraderie within the organization.”

After getting married in March, Miller is no longer eligible to serve as the squadron’s BOSS representative and passed her duties on to Spc. Corrigan Conklin, also a combat medic with the squadron.

“I look forward to carrying on the work Miller did as the BOSS representative,” Conklin said. “I am always looking for opportunities to give back to the community. I’ve done volunteer work since I was ten years old — it’s always been a passion of mine.”

Both soldiers were out helping with the clean-up efforts and both were impressed by the turnout that day. Many soldiers brought their families with them to assist with the effort.

“For us, it means a lot that our squadron leadership also comes out to volunteer for events,” Conklin said. “They set the example for the soldiers to give back to the community and our leaders were out picking up trash with us.”

Giving back to the community is important to the squadron. The 3rd Cavalry Regiment regularly participates in community events. The regiment, consisting of seven squadrons, is a community partner with both Harker Heights and Salado.

The regiment also has 11 Adopt-A-School partnerships and numerous squadron initiative partnerships, such as the Adopt-A-Highway program.

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