By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Current construction at Fort Hood varies from barracks to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center to a new Main Post Chapel.
Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, talked about those and upcoming projects Friday while meeting with members of the Central Texas media.
Officials are putting $100 million into improving barracks at Fort Hood, a measure Cone said would have huge impact on single soldiers' quality of life. He talked about new living spaces for 36th Engineer Brigade soldiers, which were built in a modular component design, making the barracks a state-of-the-art facility.
Renovations are also under way at Darnall where a women's health clinic is expected to be complete by the end of June. A drive-up pharmacy is scheduled for completion by the end of the summer, Cone said.
Plans are in the works for three new 3,000-square-foot facilities to house pain management clinics, marriage counselors and family advocacy programs. Cone said the project is a perfect example of a holistic approach to the stresses soldiers and their families encounter.
Since the wars started in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cone said leaders have become more compassionate when dealing with soldiers who develop mental health issues. They have an obligation to fix these soldiers because they are the ones who put them in harm's way, he said.
The problem is that not all leaders get that, Cone said. It is his job, he said, to make sure that message gets out. Officials will take the steps necessary to make sure soldiers get the help they need, he added.
Officials recently gathered information on 160 programs on post that help soldiers and families deal with stress, and Cone said while some say those that overlap are redundant, this kind of care is complex and has a number of different angles. He is more concerned with effectiveness than efficiency when it comes to mental health.
The Resiliency Campus is one of the ways Fort Hood is leading the way in caring for its soldiers and families, Cone said. The campus and its programs contribute to the holistic approach to resiliency and continues to expand.
Military Family Life Consultants at the campus see 24 to 32 people a day, Cone said. More than 700 soldiers have participated in the Warrior Adventure Quest Program in platoon-sized groups. The program provides soldiers who recently returned from overseas outdoor recreation and high-adventure opportunities to bridge the gap between the high intensity of a deployment and life at home.
Upcoming additions at the Resiliency Campus include massage and aromatherapy.
Main Post Chapel
A large field next to Fort Hood's Palmer Theater was recently excavated to make way for a new Main Post Chapel and religious family education center. The "much-needed space" will be a huge spiritual facility, Cone said.
Warrior Transition Brigade
Construction will start in March on a new $50.4 million campus for Fort Hood's Wounded Warriors. The area will be close to the new Darnall location, and is set to include a headquarters, company areas, orderly rooms and barracks.
In other brigade news, 16 Wounded Warriors will spend a month in Colorado training with Paralympic officials. Those soldiers will vie for spots in the Warrior Games, an event hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee in May in Colorado. The Pentagon announced in January that hundreds of troops and veterans would be selected to compete in events like shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
Cone also talked about the Warrior Transition Brigade Works program, launched last October. In the program, civilian jobs are secured for Wounded Warriors transitioning out of the Army. Ten of the brigade's soldiers are interning with the Internal Revenue Service, and plans are to partner with agencies like the Secret Service, Post Office, Veterans Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation for internships.
Help to Haiti
Fort Hood is sending units to Haiti that have unique specialties, Cone said. They include the 502nd Postal Platoon, 502nd Human Resources Company, Brigade Troops Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, and the 1st Medical Brigade's 43rd Veterinary Services Detachment and 583rd Medical Logistics Company. All of which are 13th Sustainment Command units.
The postal platoon should be on the ground in Haiti within a week, according to a Thursday XVIII Airborne Corps report. The platoon will have 48 hours to set up an Army Post Office, and will run it and assist in mail terminal and distribution facilities, according to the report.
More than 60 soldiers from the medical logistics company are awaiting a flight to Haiti, where they will perform maintenance on medical equipment and provide Class VIII medical supplies like bandages, gauze and syringes.
The veterinary services detachment departed Jan. 29, and its soldiers are caring for working dogs and inspecting food and water supplies.
Fort Hood hasn't sent any major combat units to the relief efforts, Cone said. Those were provided by the XVIII Airborne Corps and other Army and Marines units on the East coast.
Cone said he didn't foresee any combat units deploying to Haiti, "but then again, things could change.
"We stand ready to assist in any way possible," Cone said.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or (254) 501-7547. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.
General to address AUSA
Lt. Gen. Robert Cone is set to give a "State of the Corps" address Feb. 17 at the Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army meeting. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on W.S. Young Drive in Killeen. Dress is Texas casual and dinner will be served by Schoepf's Old Time Bar-B-Que. Tickets for the event cost $12 each and are available at III Corps Executive Services, third floor of III Corps headquarters; Fort Hood National Bank, T.J. Mills Boulevard, Fort Hood; and chambers of commerce offices in Belton, Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Salado and Temple.
For more information about the meeting, contact the chapter at (254) 532-2493.
Lt. Gen. Robert Cone also talked about III Corps upcoming deployment and what Fort Hood-area residents could expect to see in the coming months as the post's soldier population is at a high it hasn't seen since the war began. For more on that, read Sunday's Herald. For more about III Corps' deployment to Iraq, read Wednesday's Fort Hood Herald.