4th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers Collect Proceeds for California Fire Victims

Story and Photos by Spc. John D. Ortiz
13th SC(E) Public Affairs Office

FORT HOOD, Texas — The 4th Sustainment Brigade held a Civilian Dress Down Day, Nov. 21, in remembrance of the California wildfire victims.

The command authorized Soldiers to wear civilian clothes to work and gave them an opportunity to donate to a fund to support those in need.

24 wildfires have consumed more than 800,000 acres and directly affected more than 880,000 individuals, resulting in evacuations, seven deaths and more than 90 injuries.

Soldiers in the unit have been affected by this natural disaster personally, with several Soldiers’ families having to be relocated due to losing their homes in the wildfires.

“The fires were moving fast, the firefighters were overwhelmed and the weather wasn’t helping,” said Sgt. Humberto S. Silva, the brigade commander’s driver, “my family was evacuated temporarily and went to go live with several family members that lived in other cities.”

Having a brigade dress down day “was a great idea,” said Silva, “obviously it came down pretty hard on family members, and to give something back is always beneficial”

During the height of the wildfires, 248 active duty servicemembers, approximately 65 Department of Defense civilians, and more than 2700 National Guardsmen were committed to fighting the wildfires in Calif.

Spc. Julie C. Burns, a 4th SB command secretary, and the person behind the dress down day “just thought somebody had to do something to help [the victims] out.”

Burns presented her idea to the chain-of-command to have a brigade-wide dress down day to raise funds to help the victims of the wildfires.

“My chain-of-command was really receptive,” said Burns, “and the brigade commander really supported me on it.”

“Soldiers are overseas and helping out other countries,” said Burns, “and finally, we had a chance to help out here at home, in the United States.”

The dress down day and fundraiser was “a good team and camaraderie building event,” said Col. Terence J. Hermans, the 4th SB Commander, “it was mainly to provide [some] help to the [victims,] who could use a gesture of good will.”

“The people of this country do a great job in supporting us,” said Hermans, “it was an opportunity to show that we are behind [the American people] like they are behind us.”

This tragedy “touched a lot of Soldiers in the brigade and I think everybody will step up and contribute, as part of the wrangler team effort, to support our gesture of good will,” said Hermans.

“It’s great to have Soldiers, like Specialist Burns, that not only care about what they do in the military, but also about their community,” he said, “the ideas that [Soldiers] come up with and the dedication and commitment to see [a project] through, it is indicative of all of our Soldiers.”

The 4th SB raised more than 3,000 dollars, during the Civilian Dress Down Day, in remembrance of the Calif. wildfire victims.