DOD funding programs for families of extended 1st AD troops
More than $2.6 million has been dispersed to help families in Germany cope after soldiers from the 1st Armored Division were told they’d be staying in Iraq for four months longer than planned.
Children who had prepared for April and May homecomings are being provided summer jobs, summer camps and free movies to help keep them busy. Spouses will be able to utilize additional child-care services, and family support groups are getting more money to do their work.
The funding is part of a response by U.S. Army Europe and Installation Management Agency Europe after spouses complained that the four-month extensions of soldiers had scuttled plans and disrupted lives.
The money was distributed to base support battalions in Baumholder, Wiesbaden, Hanau and Giessen, where 1st AD units are based.
“We’re trying to build in summer activities and programs to address those issues,” said Tom Ross, director of community activities for the 221st BSB of Wiesbaden and Dexheim. Ross said the money would help pay for things such as sports leagues and travel costs.
“It allows us to fund [programs] that we would not normally have money for,” Ross said.
An additional $33.6 million has been requested from the Department of Defense but has not yet been approved, according to Robert Purtiman, a spokesman for U.S. Army Europe.
Money so far has been distributed to pay for Overnight Camp for Teens ($120,000), Local Youth Camp ($560,000), Summer Hire Program ($1 million), Child Care extended hours ($300,000), Family Day Care ($400,000), Family Support Group ($200,000) and free movies ($84,000), according to Rhaino Scharck, a spokesman for the 104th Area Support Group, which oversees the four bases.
The money was distributed in proportion to how many soldiers from each base had their deployments extended, Scharck said.
Scharck said USAREUR Commander Gen. B.B. Bell wanted the money to be distributed in ways that would support the families of soldiers who were extended.
“That’s what we’re doing with everything at the moment, providing maximum support for families of extended soldiers,” Scharck said.
There were 14,250 soldiers whose deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom were extended on April 19. The bulk were from units of the 1st Armored Division.
In Baumholder, where many homecoming celebrations were postponed, the additional funding and programs will enable soldiers’ children to stick together through a tough time, according to base spokeswoman Madeleine Dwoiakowski.
“These programs are kind of bridging the gap,” Dwoiakowski said. “We’re expecting the soldiers back between mid-July and mid-August.”
Of the remaining $33.6 million wish list, high priority has been given to $9 million in items, according to Millie Waters, a spokeswoman for IMA-E. She said all further funding, including for concerts mentioned in a May 16 Stripes story, is not guaranteed.