Face of Defense: Soldier Creates Home Away From Home
By Army Lt. Col. Renee A. Rouse
Special to American Forces Press Service
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq, Aug. 20, 2009 The 304th Sustainment Brigade and Joint Base Balad have their own Martha Stewart tucked in the H-6 housing area here.
Army Maj. Gina Garbedian shows off her containerized housing unit at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Garbedian spent six months decorating the unit to make it feel like a home away from home during her deployment. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Maj. Gina Garbedian, a Los Angeles native, moved into her containerized housing unit in November and has made it her home away from home.
"It was like moving into a warehouse," she said.
As soon as she moved in, she said, she began to think of ways to make it seem a little cozier and more like home. She visualized "creating a little sanctuary where I could recharge my battery," she said.
For her first project, Garbedian replaced her miniblinds with curtains made from bath towels and a shower curtain. She found an old piece of pipe in the yard next to the self-help woodshop and cut it down to the appropriate length. She used ribbon to cover the exposed sides and placed a bow at each end to cover hooks.
"It became like a game for me to find things around post that could be reused," she said.
As time went by, Garbedian tackled several other projects. She tapped the self-help resources on post and got her husband in on the act by having him go to fabric stores to purchase and ship materials she could use to glamorize her unit.
Garbedian took many ideas with her when she went home on leave. She bought foam, fabric, thumb tacks and dust ruffles, with plans to use them when she returned.
Each project took about two months to complete, and the final unveiling of the completed unit took six months.
"I would do a little bit every night," she said.
Her creative vision resulted in a housing unit decorated tastefully in hues of light green and yellow. Garbedian made her own sanctuary in the desert and now shares the knowledge she gained through the interior decorating process.
The project made her realize she is resourceful enough to decorate with limited time and resources.
"I no longer have to wait until I retire to decorate my home," she said. "I can do a little bit each night until it is finished."
(Army Lt. Col. Renee A. Rouse serves with the 13th Sustainment Command.)