Once again a busload of FWAPC members and their guests were off to visit the Army installation at Fort Hood. Our hosts were as accommodating and genuinely pleased to have us as in the past. We routed past the world’s largest motor pool – 7 miles of stored vehicles of all kinds which are rotated to and from of war zones.

We visited one of the Army’s newest and most highly emphasized units, known as Military One Source. With the frequent and long term deployment of military personnel comes the increasing need for assistance in the areas of stress, finances, family issues, grief and loss. In our high tech world our troops are more than ever likely to be under pressure with at-home issues as a result of email and internet communications. This type of added pressure puts our troops at greater risk while deployed in war zones.  When they return home there are many new issues to be faced as a result of separation and combat stress.

The military and the Army in particular, have taken major steps to help our troops and their families in new ways. This program at Ft. Hood is totally voluntary; no records are kept and no names are recorded. Highly trained, professional, licensed councilors are on duty to handle these issues at no cost to the troops, including guard and reserve, as well as their families.

The “mess halls” of today are far beyond anything your fellow FWAPC veterans experienced during their tours. On this visit we all managed to fill our plates at least once with a wide variety of great tasting options. The ice cream machine got a pretty good workout from us too.

Our afternoon was filled with an interesting tour of the airfield and tower. The electronics are state-of-the-art. We watched as radar units tracked and displayed aircraft as far out as DFW. The Air Traffic Control is civilian operated, and our host, Ron Gerner, Directorate of Aviation Operations, and his staff was our “tour guides” for the day. The tower does have an elevator, but there are still many steps to climb. The view makes that all worthwhile. Don Shelton was sure he could see his beloved Oklahoma from up there.

Our visit concluded with a visit to the main terminal for departing and returning troops. It is a very large facility, and contains all the needed medical, form processing, rest area and meal service to process troops in as little as 90 minutes. That’s particularly important to returning troops.

We’ve been promised a return visit when arrangements can be made for our FWAPC group to tour the armored units. If that’s half as much fun as the weapons training we experienced last time, we’ll have a busload of takers for sure.