Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Great Place remains great, not just because it’s in Texas

I wrote this column the week after the November 5, 2009 shooting at Fort Hood.

Fort Hood is The Great Place for many reasons.

Before recent events, we were known for our size and our place in this global war on terror, among other things. I mean, this is Texas after all. How could it be anything but The Great Place?

Then, we made national news in a way I reckon for which we’d rather not be remembered…but there it is.

I got to thinking why this post is called “The Great Place.”

Fort Hood has always been a great place to work. In the more than two years I’ve been here, I’ve loved coming to work every day just to be here. I still do.

The Great Place is great not just because of Texas or the Texans that work and live here, but because of ALL the people here that make a difference to our nation.

I’m not blowing smoke or being all sun-shiny when I write this. I mean every word.

I look forward to seeing our gate security guards. We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit in the few seconds we interact each morning as I drive into the main entrance. We call each other by name, wish each other a good morning and manage a little small talk now and then.

Our daily exchanges are comforting to me…especially now.

Every day, I see the women at the little III Corps café, either for breakfast or lunch. Ms. White and Ms. Harris know what I’m ordering before I order and they always take care of me.

The morning after our little world here flew apart at the seams, our Soldiers who guard our building had to search my personal belongings, but they did it with grace.

“Any candy we find is ours,” one said, joking with me. It eased the blow of our sudden loss.

Here in Public Affairs, we all had some fairly unpleasant things to cover. Our television program, Fort Hood on Track, was especially difficult to produce in an emotional context. We had to do stories involving our friends. We had to be one more media outlet in a long line of media entities interviewing our Directorate of Emergency Services personnel. The folks at DES were, as they always are, gracious and accommodating even though they had reached the point of exhaustion a long time ago.

The people in this public affairs office were truly awesome. In the organized chaos of dealing with reporters, every one of my colleagues took a moment to pray for or silently grieve with our Army Families. Public affairs detachment Soldiers poured in to help us shoulder our own burdens and earned my respect even more than they already had. Not one writer, producer, reporter or editor complained about long hours. The only question asked was, “What can I do to help you?”

Speaking of media, several news agencies sent us emails commenting on their experiences at Fort Hood. All were complimentary. One wrote, “Please extend my thanks to all the (Public Affairs Office)s that helped me and others to the best they could under ugly circumstances...I appreciate all the team's efforts to help me get the photos...I am leaving with the impression you all did as much as you could. ...we had all we needed.”

I know that it wasn’t just us who made a terrible experience positive for our visitors. It was all of us, from Army civilian employees and contractors to Soldiers to post residents to our Fort Hood Families.

My hat is certainly off to the Resiliency Center. The timing of having that resource in place could not have been better. If you need it, take advantage of it. I’m contemplating it myself. I’ve come to know a whole lot of folks on this post. Every time I have a question or need a favor, y’all are here. You have a great attitude about everything, which is sometimes hard to muster when times are tough.

Our Central Texas communities stood up to the challenge, too…as we Texans are just bred to do. We’re born for it. It’s deeply embedded in our Texas culture to be kind, gracious and generous, especially when it’s hard. The very best of this nation is right here in one location.

Putting Texas and the United States Army together the way it is at Fort Hood would naturally result in our being The Great Place. We have a lot of healing to do in the days and months to come, but as one of our own so perfectly put it, “Fort Hood will go on.” And it will because of all of us who truly make this the Great Place.

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