By Iuliana Petre

Killeen Daily Herald

During Fort Hood's Arbor Day, members of the military community gathered at the future site of a handicap-accessible playground on post to plant 50 trees and unveil a plaque in honor of wounded warriors.

The pecan grove is dedicated to the more than 1,200 service members currently assigned to the warrior transition unit at Fort Hood. Soldiers with the unit have dedicated their lives in service to the nation.

"The grove symbolizes growth and life," said Michelle Wallace, community manager for the Fort Hood family housing office.

The mission of the Fort Hood family housing office is to provide quality communities and services to military families.

By doing something in honor of wounded warriors, the housing office symbolizes stewardship to all those who have dedicated their lives in the line of service.

Lt. Col. Timothy Snider, commander of the warrior transition battalion, said the grove symbolizes the needs of the wounded warriors – the support from family members, friends and fellow soldiers needed during the healing process.

Trees, too, require natural resources such as sunshine, soil and water to grow.

Snider, who quoted Abraham Lincoln, said that there is no greater responsibility than the care of our wounded soldiers, and it takes all of us to make this happen.

Spc. Christopher Skeens, a soldier assigned to the warrior transition battalion, was wounded in Iraq when he was deployed with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Skeens has been with the warrior transition battalion since October.

He suffered damage to his lungs, back and knees, and requires a wheelchair to get around.

Skeens has two handicapped children and is grateful for the playground, which will be built next to the grove.

"It will be nice to have a place to spend time with my kids," Skeens said.

Skeens' injuries are enough that he will be medically retired from the military, but he is grateful for the recognition he has received for his service.

Contact Iuliana Petre at or call (254) 501-7469.

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