By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
WEST FORT HOOD – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison visited Fort Hood on Tuesday to tour post housing areas, barracks and meet with Warrior Transition Unit soldiers.
Fort Hood has great housing, Hutchison said, and is one of the country's models for the partnership between the Army and privatized housing.
All but a small portion of the post's family housing has been upgraded, and Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Fort Hood and III Corps commander, wanted Hutchison to see the older housing, she said during a press conference following the tour.
Congress approved the 2009 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Spending Bill last week, which provides $2.743 billion in construction spending for Texas.
The legislation, which was sent to the president, provided $10.8 billion for active-duty military construction and $1.35 billion for National Guard- and Reserve-related construction, according to information from the senator's office.
More than $3.1 billion is for family housing construction and operations.
"This funding will improve not only the facilities used by our soldiers but also the quality of life for all of those living on our military bases," Hutchison said on Saturday.
The senator said on Tuesday that she is working to ensure Fort Hood stays at its 52,000-soldier level. The post is most efficient when at those numbers, she said, and the community has made upgrades to its infrastructures to support that.
It's important that Fort Hood stays at that level, she said.
Part of the spending bill earmarked more than $1.3 billion for regular military construction projects in Texas, including $42.8 million at Fort Hood, according to information from Hutchison's office.
Hutchison said she was "very proud" of Fort Hood and would make sure the post "stays totally up to date."
Before leaving Fort Hood, the senator met with Warrior Transition Unit soldiers about the health care treatment they receive.
Visits by Washington politicians like Hutchison are beneficial because they bring attention to how soldiers are living and being treated, said Cpl. Timothy Long, of the unit's Alpha Company. His previous unit was the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Long said he was pleased with his care since arriving to the unit in April 2008.
Another Alpha Company soldier, Cpl. Theodore Day, said Fort Hood has done a good job of restructuring the Warrior Transition Unit. He, too, was pleased with his care and appreciated the chance to talk with the senator. Day's previous unit was the 1st Cavalry's 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Hutchison coming to meet a handful of soldiers was better than her speaking to an auditorium of 500 to 600 of them because it gave everyone personal interaction, Day said. That closeness showed Hutchison that the wounded soldiers are not statistics, he added.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.
A run for governor?
Also during Tuesday's press conference, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said she was "looking into it" when asked whether she was making a run for Texas governor.
It wasn't the time to campaign, the senator said, considering the upcoming presidential election and the current national economic crisis.