News: Oasis: a soldier’s retreat
Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Not all deployments are made equal. For some soldiers, the worst part about deployment is being away from friends and family, while other soldiers have it a lot harder; basic amenity like daily showers, laundry services and hot meals are rare.
The Oasis, located on Forward Operating Base Walton and built by the soldiers of 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was designed for soldiers who are roughing it.
“The Oasis was built to provide Warhorse soldiers a respite,” said Lt. Col. Todd Bertulis, commander for 204th BSB. “We want to give soldiers the ability to come off the line and take a break, get some sleep, and possibly forget where they’re at and where they’re stationed for just a few days.”
The Oasis is a compound unto itself where soldiers don’t have to worry about the accountability of their weapon or maintaining uniform standards and are able to relax for a few days.
“Overall, it’s been a very positive thing,” said Maj. Matthew Giertz, the 204th BSB operations officer. “It provides a place for soldiers to come and relax, to decompress; for them to kind of step away from the day-to-day op tempo and missions.”
“It was nice to have a three day getaway, and we had a whole lot of fun here,” said Sgt. Brad Edgar, a scout with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “The best part was the chance to just get away from the whole environment outside the gate and have some fun.”
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Pfc. Anthony Wendle, a soldier with Company A, 2nd Bn., 8th Inf. Reg. “We got to sleep and relax. The best part was being able to have my own little personal space. We really don’t get a lot of that.”
“We offer them [Morale, Welfare and Recreation tents] for internet, video games, gym, dining facility, private rooms with comfortable beds, and no uniform standards so they can chill out and relax while they’re here,” said Sgt. Dylan Gray, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Oasis, who is with Company A, 204th BSB.
Not only does the Oasis offer relaxation, but it also provides soldiers an opportunity to have their vehicles and weapons maintenance done by BSB personnel.
“We offer services when they come in,” Gray said. “They can choose to have light maintenance done on their vehicles; anything that we can do within the three days they’re here.”
“We can do services on their weapons, vehicles and even [radios],” Giertz said. “It’s kind of a two-for-one; come relax and recharge yourself so you can get back into the fight and continue your mission.”
“Personally, as the logistics guy for the brigade, I look to try and see if I can assist the task force with maintenance services for vehicles and/or weapons,” Bertulis said. “Plus, having the BSB here provides other opportunities for folks such as behavioral health, if that soldier requires it.”
“We help them network around the [camp] to get them whatever assistance they may need, be it medical, financial, behavioral health, or if they want to see the chaplain,” Gray said.
The only thing that soldiers are required to do while at the Oasis is attend a two hour class on resiliency training.
The Oasis is a unique facility manned by soldiers who really care about their fellow soldiers.
“I think I’m really providing a good service for those soldiers who have been out there in bad living conditions for the past seven months and haven’t seen a decent bed, laundry facility, a decent gym or haven’t been able to talk to their families very much,” Gray said. “I personally feel like we are providing a wonderful service for these guys. I pride myself in this place.”
“It’s really just soldiers helping soldiers, which is really what a brigade support battalion is all about,” Bertulis said. “We want to keep taking care of Warhorse and doing the best we can here.”