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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nostalgia - Fort Pickett, VA - and other posts similar

On Friday, July 26th 2013, I wrapped up another annual training with the Army National Guard.  Going on seventeen years of service has brought perspective on not only service in the present, but a respect for the past.  When I say past, I mean those that have worn the uniform in the past, and also a deep seeded nostalgia for the Army Posts that we as National Guardsmen frequent.  The most recent annual training was completed at Fort Pickett, Virginia.  Most might consider this place a nightmare, but for me it holds a history that speaks louder the more time you spend within the boundaries that define it.  Some despise it, because it is one of the many National Guard posts that time has forgotten, funds for the military do not flood into Fort Pickett, or at least it wouldn't seem that way by taking a journey around the post.  Poorly maintained roads, old and not well maintained living quarters, a gym that if not for the workout being free I would never step inside of, there is little that looks as if it has been refurbished or recently built on Fort Pickett, but that may be just what makes it special to some, including me. 

Now, I will admit, I haven't seen every square inch of the compound, I haven't stepped inside every building (The officer's quarters were acceptable), but it seems that the government funds are not being funneled anywhere near the part of the post where we were operating.  Now, they do have a relatively new training institution (183rd Regiment Regional Training Institute) that looks like a very nice facility, plus there are newer buildings towards the main entrance of the post where it seems the majority of the employed population most likely functions, but for the most part it is somewhat a "throwback" feeling in the infrastructure. 

As I started to say, this may be annoying to some, or give it a feeling of inconvenience (really, who cares if the toilet stalls have doors on them?), but at one time these buildings most likely were a luxury for service members of the past.  Just goes to show how our society has changed, and along with it the standards expected in the military, even when it comes to creature comforts.  Kind of sad, but we still have to be prepared to just sleep under the stars, because that is all that may be available, and that is the reality of the Army.  Sometimes it just sucks, but it is our suck, and we try to embrace it, even when it is difficult to want to hold on to. 

Other than Fort Pickett, I have spent an overwhelming part of my time at another old and nostalgic military post, Fort Indiantown Gap, over the last five plus years.  Again, this facility has lodging and infrastructure that makes one consider the significant levity of our military's history and exactly whose "boots" we are trying to fill as we proceed through the twenty first century.  The history that these old building hold is immense, and we must always be aware and acknowledge the great Americans that have come before us that have utilized these training posts, slept in the barracks, and trained on the same ranges and roads that we use on a yearly basis.  If only the walls of many of these facilities could talk, the stories would be interesting to experience.  Fort Indiantown Gap has begun and extensive renovation project, many of the old areas have been renovated and the old dilapidated look of years gone by has been refurbished, new interiors and exteriors to include roofs have been reworked for the better.  Central air and heat add to the new renovated buildings, but there are plenty of buildings in a couple of areas of the post that are still one swift kick away from falling down, such was the last building we operated our Aid Station out of during a drill weekend in June.  There was a modest amount of vandalism in the building, walls falling apart, some drywall in places replaced with cardboard from MRE boxes.  And a stench of mold enough to give concern about how many spores we were breathing in and what type of mold it may be.  Luckily, we only spent one full day in the building.  It needs to be torn down, this is one building not worth renovating. 

For more information on these two instrumental Army National Guard military posts click the links below.

Fort Indiantown Gap:

Fort Pickett:

Not much available on the VAARNG online?

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