TIKRIT, Iraq – To combat the stresses of deployment and maintain the welfare of the Soldiers in their battalion, Capt. Josh Ziegler and Sgt. Michael Kuehne, the chaplain and chaplain assistant for 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., built a Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center.
The construction of the small recreation center, named Joe's, began in December of 2009 and was built within the living area of the 'Proud Americans.' It's equipped with two projectors, games, movies, chairs, books and a plethora of supplies for the Soldiers.
"Basically, in this LSA [life support area] there's no place for Soldiers to meet when it's raining, dusty and nasty outside," said the New Orleans native. "So, Sergeant Kuehne and I put our heads together, and we thought of an idea of [creating] a building that would facilitate that."
During the week, the Soldiers gather inside the recreation center to display their musical talents at karaoke night or show their skill at a particular game for game night.
Spc. Greg Williams of San Antonio, a supply clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-32 FAR says the creation of Joe's has helped to boost the morale of the Soldiers within the battalion and makes being away from Family a little easier.
"This is something I think that every unit should look into developing because it really helps out and gives the Soldiers a place to consider a home away from home," he said.
"I think it's good for Soldiers' morale because it brings Soldiers together," said Kuehne, a native of Spartanburg, S.C. "Anyone can go to their CHU and watch their own movies and play their own [video games], but it really isolates them. Here, they can watch a movie [and] play X-Box together. It shows that spirit of unity."
The creation of the recreation center rendered a lot of support from not only the Soldiers but from the battalion's leadership and Families back home.
"We couldn't have done it without the help of those around us," Kuehne said. "We had a lot of help from our command and our first sergeant getting us the supplies we needed. Then, the people in the States who sent us stuff to stock our shelves and give out to the Soldiers."
"I'm proud that the unit put forth the energy, effort and materials to be able to do something like this," said Ziegler. "It shows that they care for the Soldiers."
This work, 'Proud Americans' chaplain, chaplain assistant build up morale, by SGT Shantelle Campbell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.