Sgt. Richard Wrigley
2HBCT Public Affairs
FORT STEWART, Ga. – Spartan soldiers took the day to escort a group of girls from the Masonic Children’s Home around Fort Stewart, and show them what the Army is all about, June 4.
Company C, 26th Brigade Support Battalion “Challengers,” 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Spartans,” 3rd Infantry Division, represented Fort Stewart when they hosted 16 girls from the Masonic Home.
The Masonic Home of Georgia is a Residential Child Care facility, fully funded by the Masons of Georgia, which does all it can to provide an environment for youth to develop themselves physically mentally and spiritually.
John Snipes, a native of Macon, Ga., and the Superintendent of the Masonic Home, explained that the children come from all over the state of Georgia.
“They come from dysfunctional Families which can mean anything from abuse, to a family simply not having the financial ability to support the child,” Snipes said.
Children who are accepted into the program are completely taken care of, and are the responsibility of the Masonic Home. Not only are they housed and fed, but everything from their cloths to their medical and dental needs are covered. In fact, their education is covered as well all the way through college, if they maintain their grades and do well, Snipes explained.
“The Home has been doing this for the past 108 years … we try to provide a service where children don’t fall through the cracks, where they don’t just become part of the system,” said Snipes.
The Medics of Company C, 26th BSB, took a break from the rigors of their usual mission to show the children what they do, and talk to them about some of the opportunities they have each encountered in the Army.
“We wanted to give the girls a little taste of what the Army is like,” 1st Lt. Lauren Rice, a native of Buffalo, Minn., and the treatment platoon leader for, C Company, 26th BSB, said.
The day started in the Challenger’s motorpool, where the soldiers showed the children some first aid techniques, and then demonstrated some battlefield scenarios, after which the soldiers showed the children some of the vehicles they use, and allowed them to get some hands-on experience with the stationary vehicles.
“When I was their age, the only thing I knew about the military was what was in the movies. We aren’t all Infantry, and I think it’s really important for the children to have this opportunity to see that,” said Rice.
After the motorpool, the Challengers took the children over to the Warrior’s Walk. The Warriors Walk is a living memorial of hundreds of Eastern Redbud Trees, planted in memory of each 3rd ID Soldier killed in the line of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
After paying their respects to the fallen, the Challengers took the children to the Spartan Dining Facility, where the children could eat, relax and talk to the soldiers in a less formal setting. During this time the soldiers answered any questions the children had, and learned more about the children, Rice said.
“The girls showed a lot of interest in what we are doing,” Rice added.
The Challengers brought the children over to the Engagement Skills Trainer after their lunch for the last phase of the children’s visit. At the EST, the children were taught how an M16 A-4 Rifle functions, how to shoot one, and then tried to zero the weapon using basic rile marksmanship techniques.
It was clear this final event was many of the children’s favorite, including Veronica Burnam, age 17, a native of Macon, Ga., and one of the girls who participated in the day’s events.
“I thought it was really fun,” said Veronica.
“It’s great to see all the opportunities you can get in the Army, and it was also really good to see that there is other stuff to do in the Army other than just fight,” she added.
If interested in learning more about the Masonic Home of Georgia, you can read more at the website: www.masonichomeofgeorgia.com