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    The 104th Division: Inspiring compassion outside the gates of Fort Knox

    Spc. Corey Mills

    Photo By Capt. Cheryl Abbate | Spc. Corey Mills of 3rd Brigade, 104th Division, befriends one of the dogs at the...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Cheryl Abbate 

    104th Training Division (Leader Training)

    FORT KNOX, Ky. - We’ve all heard heartwarming stories about Soldiers in the United States Armed Forces who befriended animals while deployed overseas, forming deep and enduring bonds. In addition, Soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after returning to the states from their deployments continue to find emotional support and strength by befriending animals. The fact is, being around animals is incredibly therapeutic, especially in times of discomfort, pain, or distress. This being the case, it goes without saying that the companionship of animals has played in integral part of maintaining the emotional welfare of many Soldiers within the Armed Forces.

    In recognizing the impact that animals have had on their fellow service members, 11 Soldiers from the 104th Division of the 108th Training Command of the United States Army Reserve who are assigned to support the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) 2015 Cadet Summer Training (CST) event in Fort Knox, Kentucky, gathered together on the 6th of August, 2015 to help out the homeless cats, dogs, pigs, goats, and geese just 10 miles down the road at the Animal Refuge Center in Vine Grove, Kentucky. The event was organized by Capt. Cheryl Abbate, the Unit Public Affairs Representative of 1st Brigade of the 104th Division. Abbate remarked that “one of our responsibilities, as Soldiers in the Army Reserve, is to ensure that we support our local communities. As we continually see on the news, animals do wonders to enhance the well-being of our service members. For that, they certainly deserve our attention and time.”

    Another volunteer, 2nd Lt. Tara Drumm of 3rd Brigade of the 104th Division explained that she jumped at the chance to volunteer at the Animal Refuge Center because “every little bit of support helps and, let’s be honest, who doesn't smile from hanging out with a bunch of cute animals?” Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith from HHC, 1st Brigade, 104th Division said that he wanted to volunteer because his own dog was severely abused before he adopted her and “this was my opportunity to give back and help animals.”

    While at the shelter, the volunteers from the 104th Division helped break down old cabinets, build new shelves and cabinets, helped carry in hefty bags of cat litter, walked the dogs, and socialized with the dogs, cats, kittens, pigs, geese, and goats. At the end of the day, Smith commented that it was “rewarding to help the volunteers at the Animal Refuge Center get on their feet so they can better help animals.” Spc. Joshua Salinas agrees. As he puts it, “it’s nice to see people work hard to selflessly benefit creatures other than themselves. I always want to be a part of that when I see it.”

    The manager of the Animal Refuge Center, Penny Edwards, was incredibly thankful for the help of the Soldiers from the 104th Division. As someone who is the daughter of a retired sergeant major, Edwards was quick to say that “we love to have Soldiers out here.” Since there are over 140 animals and only five part-time paid workers, the Center can take all of the volunteer help they can get. She welcomes Soldiers from Fort Knox to continue to volunteer, and hopes that others will consider visiting the shelter so they can help with the Center’s next project: building “agility courses” for their cats and dogs. Another way Soldiers can help is by participating in the Center’s “Sponsorship Program,” which involves only a $10 monthly donation. As Edwards puts it, “the sponsorship program is what keeps the Center running.”

    Interested individuals can visit the Center’s website ( for more information about how to help.



    Date Taken: 08.06.2015
    Date Posted: 08.07.2015 16:21
    Story ID: 172515
    Location: FORT KNOX, KY, US 

    Web Views: 240
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