News: Freedom Rest offers service members place to 'get away'
Story by Spc. Britney Hiatt
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - A new facility opened on Camp Victory March 30 where service members in United States Division-Center can relax when given a four-day pass.
Freedom Rest is a new 'get away' designed to provide service members a place to escape from the pressures of their deployment.
Command Sgt. Maj. William Johnson, USD-C and 1st Armored Division command sergeant major, cut the ceremonial ribbon officially opening the facility and said the facility is easy to get to, but still takes them away from their bases.
The Freedom Rest complex consists of two buildings. The first is a three story guest residence that can house approximately 36 guests, said Maj. Harry Foster, Camp Victory deputy mayor. The second building, a former boathouse, has several amenities on both floors that can keep service members entertained for the duration of their stay
The first floor has a small billiards room with two pool tables, a gym with a view of a lake and a furnished deck. Green Beans Coffee and a Subway sandwich shop are also located on the grounds.
The second floor boasts a large movie theatre with leather seats that can also be used for karaoke, he added. There is also a computer lab with internet access and a game room with several gaming systems and video games available.
If the service members don't feel like staying inside, they can also enjoy an afternoon hanging out at the Freedom Rest swimming pool.
Future plans for Freedom Rest involve the addition of equipment for fishing, biking and a golf driving range, Foster said. They are also looking at adding canoes and kayaks so service members can get out on the lake to relax, he added.
With expectations that Freedom Rest will soon become a destination of choice for service members, Foster said that priority will be given to those who work away from the main bases.
"USD-C will manage these slots with priority going to the service members that live in a more austere environment," said Johnson.
And while a four day pass can be a great tool to help service members take a break from the daily grind while deployed, Maj. Sharon Trotter, Freedom Rest operations officer, said the Freedom Rest complex also allows units to put their troops on pass knowing they won't be away for an extended period of time.
Previously, Soldiers on a four-day pass traveled to Qatar, which also meant additional travel days, sometimes taking a week or longer to move back to their units.
"A four day pass won't stretch to nine days because of travel," Trotter said. "Here, you're in and out on time and for a third of the cost to the government."
While the proximity to the service members who will use it make it a great option for leaders, the troops receive the greatest benefit by having a place to relax. Sgt. Roger Anderson, a member of Johnson's personal security team, said Freedom Rest is a great idea for the troops.
"It's a chance for them to come over [to Camp Victory] and just get away from the environment they are in and just enjoy a little bit of peace and relaxation," he said.