‘Virtual Installation’ Becomes Reality
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Alyn-Michael Macleod and Army Sgt. Nicole Dykstra
99th Regional Support Command
CORAOPOLIS, Pa., Sep. 21, 2010 The nation’s third Army Strong Community Center, serving servicemembers and their families who live in the Pittsburgh area, opened here Sept. 18 during a ceremony attended by about 300 soldiers, family members and civic and business leaders.
The center serves as a “virtual installation” designed to support servicemembers, their families and veterans by assisting those who are holding down the home front far from the nearest military installation when their loved ones deploy.
The idea was developed by Laura Stultz, wife of Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commander of Army Reserve Command. The couple attended the ceremony.
Mrs. Stultz said she had seen the services available to families on military installations and wanted to bring that same level of service and support to military families that do not live by a military installation.
“Most of our families want to talk to someone,” she said, adding that face-to-face contact can be crucial.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy also was on hand to open the center, and he said he understands the importance of programs that help servicemembers through his own service as a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps, working with wounded warriors who suffer from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It is so important to have this program to help ‘wrap the arms’ around the citizen-soldiers and their families to provide the help they need,” he said.
General Stultz expanded on the importance of the center and the benefits it gives to all servicemembers, especially if they are dispersed. For example, he said, the nearest active-component military installation is a four-hour drive from Pittsburgh.
The center’s support is provided by trained, qualified and skilled staff available on a 24/7 basis and delivered with a personal touch, officials said.
“We cannot do enough to give back, to support our soldiers and families,” the general said. “Our men and women in uniform are a national treasure. The least we can do is to bring the support to them.”
The other Army Strong Community Centers in Rochester, N.Y., and Bevard, S.C., and plans call for more centers to open around the country.