New center puts First Team families first
Col. Larry Phelps, commander of the 1st Cav. Div.-Rear, addresses Soldiers, family members and friends of the 1st Cav. Div. at the grand re-opening of the division’s Soldier and Family Readiness Center Jan.5. Four months and tens of thousands of dollars later, the First Team’s SFRC is ready to support both troops and families with the latest of technology and a touch of home. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Colby Hauser, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

“Our Soldiers and families deserve the very best,” Wendy Fil, the “First Lady” of the 1st Cavalry Division said during her opening remarks at the grand re-opening of the division’s Soldier and Family Readiness Center here Jan. 5.

Fil, wife of the division’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr., said what started out as an idea back in 1998 during the First Team’s deployment to Bosnia, has blossomed into a first-rate facility whose sole purpose is to take care of the troops and family members of the Cav.

“We started to remodel the facility back in September,” Master Sgt. Dennis Johnson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the SFRC said. “Now, we can offer a truly first-class facility to our Soldiers, Family Readiness Groups and families.”

Comfortable leather furniture and largescreen televisions entertained the guests as tours of the facility’s grounds, and its capabilities were demonstrated.

Troops topped off with Stetsons led the visitors throughout the various rooms while others viewed the technology available on the premises.

Johnson said the 4500-square foot facility was not only improved inside and out, but special attention was taken to add a human touch.

“We had a vision (for the SFRC) and we got that vision from Mrs. Wendy Fil,” said Col. Larry Phelps, commander of the 1st Cav. Div.-Rear Detachment. “We wanted to make it as much like home as possible.”

Phelps said although the SFRC is fully equipped to accomplish the mission of supporting Soldiers and families, the overall goal was to make it feel like a safe haven for those using the center.

Some of the resources the SFRC can provide are three large classrooms, two lounge areas, eight internet computers with web cam capabilities, a large kitchen and a children’s play area for the division’s so-called Little Team.

There are also photo copiers, fax machines and three stand-alone computers to assist family readiness groups produce their monthly newsletters.

However, what most of the rear command was excited about was the center successfully completed a video teleconference troops down range a week prior to the reopening, allowing more families to stay connected with their troops in Iraq.

“Keeping in touch with our loved ones is so important, especially during a deployment, and this center can help us keep in touch,” said Fil. “Our Soldiers are the best equipped, best trained in the Army, so it only seems right that our families are afforded the same opportunities.”