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1st ID opens housing for families of wounded

WüRZBURG, Germany — The 1st Infantry Division officially opened its Task Force Danger Homes on Wednesday, but hopes are that the homes will remain unused.

The homes, located in Würzburg’s Lincoln Housing, were inspired by The Fisher House Foundation, which offers housing facilities for families to stay near loved ones who are recuperating in major military medical facilities. Task Force Danger Homes come complete with a kitchen and are free to families who want to stay near their hospitalized soldiers.

“Seeing this complete is bittersweet,” said Sid Hall, a Family Readiness Group leader who, along with another FRG leader, Cindy Risch, coordinated the community effort to get the two apartments decorated and ready for use.

“We are hoping they would sit empty and collect dust. But it is good to know that we have them here and that they will help.”

The 1st ID, 98th Area Support Group and Würzburg Medical Department Activity pooled their efforts to create the homes.

A mother and daughter from Vilseck, Germany’s Rose Barracks stayed in one of the apartments the night it was complete to be near their soldier who was to be evacuated to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., within a few days.

“She said it really helped her, and instantly asked if she could donate money,” Hall said.

The homes were two months in the making.

Hall and Risch coordinated with units in the 1st ID and 98th ASG to get the apartments decorated. Different units were given a room in one of the apartments to decorate, which kept costs down.

Additionally, the furnishings had already been provided by the housing office. The apartments were formerly used as temporary housing for families relocating to the Leighton Barracks community, said 98th Area Support Group commander Col. Russell Santala.

“[Hall and Risch] brainstormed on the idea and were the energy behind it,” Santala said. “Other FRG leaders and units helped to make it all happen.”

Many 1st Infantry Division soldiers receive long—term care at the Würzburg hospital for injuries sustained in Iraq. The apartments make it easier for 1st ID families outside of the Würzburg area and extended family members from the States to stay near the recuperating soldiers without breaking their bank accounts.

“We have had a lot of soldiers convalescing here [in Würzburg hospital], which is a good thing,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Whalen, 1st Infantry Division rear detachment’s chief of staff.

“There is a need for this for the families.”

The availability of specialized care for soldiers at the Würzburg medical facility helps with the healing process, said Col. Linda Pierson, acting commander of Würzburg Medical Department Activity.

“The whole idea is for them to be back in the community where their families are,” Pierson said. “Having the support of their loved ones, and their unit, family and friends, goes a long way in helping them recuperate.”

For immediate care, soldiers are treated at combat support hospitals in Iraq or medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or medical centers in the States. For some long-term care, such as treatment of orthopedic injuries sustained from roadside bombs, soldiers can convalesce at the Würzburg hospital, Pierson said.

And now, their families and extended families can more easily be at their side during their hospital stay.

“Our Task Force Danger soldiers know about these homes and your passion and commitment to taking care of their families,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, 1st ID rear detachment commander, in remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

“This is another case of the Big Red One taking care of its own.”


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