126th FST Contributes to Habitat for Humanity

Story by Sgt. Joel F. Gibson
13th SC(E) Public Affairs Office

FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers of the 126th Forward Surgical Team, 36th Medevac Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) helped finish a house built by Habitat for Humanity in Killeen Nov. 3.

18 Soldiers of the 126th spent their Saturday putting the finishing touches on a house located in the 1900 block of Fleetwood Street in the northeast section of the city.

“I had this idea to something for the community that would tie the military family in with the Killeen community,” said 1st Lt. James L. Taylor, executive officer of the 126th.

The Deland, Fl. native, and former senior noncommissioned officer added, “On a volunteer basis, I asked some of the Soldiers how they’d feel about helping build a home for a family and received an overwhelmingly positive response.”

“(Taylor) asked for volunteers and I volunteered, along with the majority of the unit,” said Spc. Chris T. Janssen, a medic in the advanced trauma life support section of the 126th.

“We installed siding and shingles,” the Fayetteville, N.C. native continued, “I helped install three windows.”

Pfc. Sharon McNear, an operating room specialist in the 126th said, “Hanging the paneling was fun, the best part was using that nail gun.”

“The Soldiers were really enthusiastic and eager to get out there and contribute,” said Taylor, “The sense of contribution elevated as we got involved and saw the building come together.”

“The Soldiers went out there and basically performed an entire workday on a Saturday,” said Taylor, “Our responsibilities basically consisted of roofing, hanging siding, installing windows, basically finishing the house.”

Taylor added that while it was a great opportunity to improve community relations, the event also served as a training aid for their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“It was an opportunity to work on building community relations, which will be part of our mission in Afghanistan,” Taylor said.

“It was a good personal experience,” said Janssen, “It gave me insight into skills I can use in the future and insights into how I can interact with the Afghanistanis in the upcoming deployment.”

McNear, a native of Claxton, Ga., said, “I thought it was nice; even when you’re focusing on helping people all over the world you can still help people in your community.”

“The other emphasis was being able to help a family get in a home before the holidays,” said Taylor, “People taking pride in their homes helps to build a stronger community.”

“It’s nice to help out the community,” McNear said, “Being so close to the holidays, it’s great to give someone that gift of a home for the holidays.”

Janssen added, “It helps the community seeing the Soldiers out there helping, and it’s also really rewarding for the Soldiers involved.”

Overall the Soldiers involved were really pleased with their contributions.

“If I had to do it all over again I would,” said McNear.