The Citizen - August 2020

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Vol. 49, No. 10, August 2020

Serving the Greater Stuttgart Military Community

DOD to remove more than 11,000 troops from Germany Photo by Rey Ramon, TSC Stuttgart A paratrooper assigned to Special Operations Command Europe lands on the Malmsheim drop zone after jumping from a C-130 during an airborne operation in Stuttgart, July 17. To read more about DOD, turn to page 5.

Students prepare for new normal at school By Rebecca Castellano U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Due to COVID-19, the upcoming school year will look a little different for U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart families. The Department of Defense Education Activity is offering parents and students a choice between returning to campus or attending online classes. Creating a COVID-free environment for all students to learn in has been the mission at every level of DoDEA leadership since May, said Steven Sanchez, DoDEA Europe East Superintendent. “This is all we are focused on,” Sanchez said. “Our preparation for how sanitized our schools will be, for the procedures and protocols that we need in place, the types of instruction we can offer, we’ve been working on this and will continue to work on it. Because we realize that it will change as the world situation changes too.” DoDEA schools will follow CDC and DOD COVID-19 recommendations to mitigate risks to students and staff on campus. Face masks will be required when six feet of distance cannot be observed. Stuttgart Elementary School Principal Sonja Rodriguez said her staff is working to remove nonessential furniture to create spaces where children can remove masks throughout the day. She is also working with

the transportation office to clear out bus parking lanes and create extra space to hold outdoor activities and recess. “To the greatest extent practical, our students will attend recess,” Rodriguez said. “That means in the snow, too. So, we are asking parents to make sure their kids have appropriate winter attire because the kids love to go out and play in winter too.” Rodriguez said she feels confident that her staff and parents will unite to help students understand why these changes are happening. “We don’t want to scare the children or make everything seem like a bad thing so it's important that the parents and our teachers work together to make this a positive experience,” said Rodriguez. Stuttgart High School Principal Rick Renninger is also considering ways to hold some classes outside when possible and open the auditorium for extra seating during the three lunch sessions the high school will have. Students will follow a one-direction flow when transiting between classes and will wear masks when physical distancing cannot be observed. “If I was doing this job anywhere else, my biggest concern would be that students weren’t going to follow the rule. But, I have never been able to trust a community as much as I’ve trusted these students,” Renninger said. “I truly do believe that

Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen volunteer Incoming freshmen ask questions during their orientation tour of Stuttgart High School, Aug. 3, at Panzer Kaserne.

everyone is going to follow the guidelines that we’ve established because they know that we all have to do it to keep everyone safe.” Parents can see exactly how schools will mitigate risks at each Health Protective Condition Level by visiting returntoschool. Sanchez encourages every parent to read the “Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Return to School” guide at the website above to make an informed decision when registering their children. Whichever option parents chose they can

be confident their child will receive the same quality education DoDEA prides itself on. “We’ve had a very successful virtual high school for over a decade now and we will be expanding that success to take on all our virtual classes,” Sanchez said. “We are purchasing a curriculum that is already aligned to our standard. It is high-quality and it is going to be interesting and engaging for kids.” See BACK TO SCHOOL, page 13


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Changes challenge incoming families amid coronavirus

Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

Remaining vigilant against terrorism

By Col. Jason Condrey Commander U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Summer for military families often means change. For many of us, that means packing up our entire households and moving our homes. We watch movers put little numbered tags on all our possessions and load everything into crates to ship to a faraway place. We bundle up kids and pets, then carry bags to hotels and airports. It can be a lot to handle, even for experienced families. This year, we have the added coronavirus measures to take into consideration. We now have hundreds of newcomers arriving in the Stuttgart military community. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a moment. For people arriving from the U.S., a nasal swab to test for the coronavirus at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic is their first welcome. For most, a two-week stay in the Panzer hotel on post or one of our local establishments, doing their best to maintain their distance, is their next step. The efforts of our on-post lodging staff, featured in this edition of the Citizen, are making their stay as comfortable and safe as possible. When finished with their quarantine, newcomers are integrating into their organizations. Our garrison team has created a virtual in-processing experience, where most of the information newcomers need can be accessed on videos linked to the USAG Stuttgart

Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Col. Jason Condrey speaks to the community during a July livestream community update.

app. Some things must still be done in person, by appointment, while wearing a mask. Some are getting their kids ready for school. Our local school staffs are doing everything they can now to put protective measures in place. They are also offering a virtual classroom option for those who choose that format. That decision, for newcomers, can be made upon arrival. For those of us who’ve worn the uniform, change may come a little easier. It’s part of the job. For families, especially children, it might not be as easy. It’s important to know that the garrison and its partner organizations have services for family members during these stressful times. Stopping by Army Community Service, the USO and the American Red Cross should be part of any newcomer’s agenda.

Finally, August is when we reinforce antiterrorism awareness. We live in uncertain times. We live and work overseas. Our adversaries have not given up their causes. With violence arising in places we might have once considered safe, now more than ever we must remain vigilant and not let our guard down. Taking some time to evaluate your exposure and following our antiterrorism guidance is prudent this month and throughout the year. Information at the garrison changes daily. It’s our commitment to you to communicate early and often about changes. Follow the garrison on social media and tune into our livestream and AFN broadcasts to stay up to date. Despite all the changes, before long you will join us in saying, “I’m glad I live here.”


Geoffrey Morris, Rey Ramon, Jason Johnston

Facebook: USAGarrisonStuttgart/

Commander Col. Jason W. Condrey



Senior Enlisted Adviser Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia Public Affairs Officer Larry Reilly Managing Editor Rick Scavetta Contributors Paul Hughes, Bardia Khajenoori, Rebecca Castellano, Mac Hightower,

Building 2949, Panzer Kaserne Army Post Office Mailing Address Unit 30401, APO AE 09107 German Mailing Address Panzer Kaserne Geb. 2949, 3rd Floor, Panzerstrasse, 70032 Böblingen Telephone:

09641-70-5962485 DSN (314) 431-3105


AdvantiPro GmbH Europaallee 3 67657 Kaiserslautern Telephone: +49 (0) 631-30 3355 30 Managing Director Bret Helenius ADVERTISING IN THE CITIZEN Display Advertising Contact Jennifer Holdsworth Telephone: +49 (0) 631-30 3355 37 Email: The Stuttgart Citizen is an authorized

Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart German police on horseback watch over demonstrators in Stuttgart.

By William Christina U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month. Now, more than ever, your vigilance is required to protect us and our mission. Antiterrorism is defined as “the defense measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts.” Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest affecting people worldwide, we must remember that terrorism continues to be a threat. Nearly every week, working with the Citizen and the garrison public affairs team, we release the latest information on protests and demonstrations in the Stuttgart area, with tips on how to stay safe. You can help us mitigate other threats. You are the best protection. You are the eyes and ears of our community.

newspaper, produced in the interest of the U.S. Army community in Stuttgart by the U.S. Army-Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office. Contents of the Citizen are not necessarily the official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government or the Department of the Army. The Stuttgart Citizen is printed by AdvantiPro, a private firm in no way connected with the U.S. Govt., under exclusive written agreement with U.S. Army Stuttgart. It is published monthly using the offset method of reproduction and has a printed circulation of 5,000 copies. Everything advertised herein shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage without

We need your constant vigilance, monitoring the daily activities of where we live and work. What might be suspicious? A person sitting in a car for an unusual length of time, or someone acting strangely, exhibiting unusual movements, looking out of place or wandering aimlessly. Of course, anyone looking into cars or homes is a red flag. Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you observe something suspicious or questionable, report it. If you have the Garrison app, look under the emergency button to find ways to report, to include iReport and the military police. You can reach the MP desk at 07031-153102. For more antiterrorism tips and information visit

regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. The appearance of advertising herein, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute endorsement by the Dept. of the Army, or AdvantiPro, of the firms, products or services advertised. Unless otherwise indicated, all seven-digit phone numbers in The Stuttgart Citizen are DSN numbers and all longer numbers are civilian.


Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020 Send your announcements for upcoming events to the USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office 2020 C.A.R.E. Fair heads outdoors This year’s Community Activities Registration Education (C.A.R.E.) Fair will be held Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Exchange parking lot at Panzer Kaserne. Visitors will get a chance to meet the people who work behind the scenes supporting the community. “Our team is committed to hosting a fantastic event and providing an opportunity for organizations to connect with both newcomers and seasoned Stuttgart community members while maintaining COVID-19 safety mitigations," said Jeremy Plumley, from Army Community Service. More information will be posted on the Family and MWR website that will highlight all the organizations participating in this year's event, Plumley said. For more details on the C.A.R.E. Fair, call 09641-70-596-3870 or DSN: 314-596-3870

CYS Virtual Recruitment Fair On Aug. 11, Child And Youth Services will host a Virtual

Recruitment Fair. CYS is looking to hire Child & Youth Program Assistant positions. Positions are available on all USAG Stuttgart installations. Non-appropriated Fund positions are open to all qualified candidates eligible for appointments under U.S. employment conditions. Applicants must be 18 or older, have a high school diploma or GED and have good English skills. To take part, submit the following documents (in PDF format) between 7:30 - 10 a.m. to: usarmy.stuttgart. •

• • • •

Current resume with current APO or local German address and phone number High school diploma/ college transcript(s) PCS orders and DD 214 (if applicable)

For more information call 09641-70-596-4100 or DSN 5964100

Civilian personnel system outage The Defense Civilian Personnel Data System will be

unavailable August 4-12 as it moves from its current hosting site at the Denver Data Center to the Oracle Cloud infrastructure. The move is intended to increase efficiency across the DOD by combining all services into one cloud while also reducing costs on server maintenance. The DCPDS portal provides access to several sites like HR, MyBiz and MyWorkplace which send updates to personnel records via the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), the Defense Civilian Pay system and the Automated Time, Attendance and Production System. Updates or changes to DOD civilian personnel files via these sites will not be available during the outage. Tony Whitehouse, Stuttgart’s Civilian Personnel Advisory Center chief, said that while the dates have been intentionally scheduled around the pay period to minimize disruptions, pay changes relating to promotions, awards, travel or living quarter allowances may be delayed. While little impact is expected on personnel action processing, new and relocating employees may face some challenges when applying for CAC cards or ATAAPS accounts.

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Welcome kits help during quarantine The USO is working in partnership with Army Community Service, the American Red Cross, and Service Credit Union to provide 200 welcome kits to newcomers in the Stuttgart military community. These kits come with a variety of goods that will not only make the time in quarantine easier but help with adjusting to life in Germany. Each individual kit features snacks like oreos and pretzels, American-style

instant coffee, maps of the bases and the surrounding community, train instructions, and much more. Toys and goods tailored to childrens’ ages, “like coloring books or decks of cards,” are also included, said Ryann Hangsleben, USO Center operations manager. These kits are available upon request through the USO, and may be picked up by the servicemember’s sponsor or by delivery on Mondays and Thursdays.

Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen volunteer Contents of gift bags prepared for newcomers by the Stuttgart USO.


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Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

Balcony gardening grows popular during COVID

Courtesy photo Brett Pound, a sixth-grade student in the Stuttgart military community, waters his balcony garden.

By Elizabeth Celtrick U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Balcony gardening has brought a sense of purpose and relaxation

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sprawling backyard to create a successful garden. Most plants found in a typical garden plot can be easily grown in a pot, on a balcony or even in a window box. Tending to these little green miracles of life within close proximity to home has provided some much-needed distraction during long summer evenings and wideopen weekends. For Brett Pound, balcony gardening offered something to do with the extra time that came along with the mid-March school closures. “It was fun to build the garden boxes and see what we could get

to grow in it,” said Pound. “Not all the plants survived, but it was fun to see how the crops turned out, and I especially enjoyed eating them. I think next year we will try more snap peas, a different kind of lettuce, and herbs.” Experts agree that gardening itself is an act of resiliency and hope, because the process, however modest, encourages one to look forward to the future. “Gardening can do wonders for your wellbeing,” said Employee Assistance Program Coordinator Kim Roedl, who is also a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist. “Studies have shown that there is a link between gardening and reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms. Nature can have a huge impact on health and wellness.” For newcomers to the hobby, however, it may have come as a surprise that Germany is experiencing its third summer in a row of drought. This year's April was reported as the sunniest and third driest ever on record by the German Meteorological Service. A dry, hot summer is no cause for complaint in Germany, especially with travel restrictions to normally sunnier destinations. However, all of these containergarden veggies suddenly needed a lot of extra care. “At first we only had to water every now and then when things felt dry,” said Kaymi Kurfis, a

member of the Stuttgart military community living in stairwell housing. “But being on the top floor with no shade covering on our balcony, we have to water way more in this heat.” Kurfis, who has always had plants, said during the initial phases of COVID, the garden gave her something to do, as more and more things closed down. She also has come to appreciate having access to a balcony so much more, which not all on-post apartments have. An informal survey among onpost gardeners shows peas, tomatoes, and lettuce as some of the more popular items to grow. “I never realized how long it takes to produce something edible,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Castellano, who grew tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, peas and zucchini on his balcony at Robinson Barracks. “And even once they started to bloom, we had one really hot weekend in June, and they all withered up. I had to nurse them back from the brink of death.” And even after those efforts, not all of Castellano’s plants survived the summer heat. He said, however, that the process has sparked an interest in gardening, and he’s already making plans for what he wants to grow next year. “It’s been fun to see how the crops turned out,” said Castellano. “The other night I finally had enough tomatoes to have caprese salad from my own garden and that made it all worth it.”




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Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

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DOD announces plans for commands to move from Stuttgart Department of Defense News Release The United States will bring some American service members home from their forward stationed assignments in Germany, while other service members will move to other locations in Europe to improve the commitment to NATO and the defense of Europe, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said, adding that the proposed changes are firmly in line with the National Defense Strategy. The plan is for U.S. European Command to reposition 11,900 personnel who are currently stationed in Germany to other locations, Esper said during a news conference today at the Pentagon. The move will reduce the number of U.S. military personnel in Germany from about 36,000 to 24,000. Repositioning could begin in weeks, he said, adding that with 24,000 American service members, Germany would still host the highest number of U.S.

troops of any nation in NATO. About 5,600 service members being moved out of Germany will stay within Europe. They will be moved to other NATO nations, Esper said. An additional 6,400 personnel will return to the United States, though Esper said this will not mean less support of NATO allies, because instead of having permanently stationed forces in Germany, other military units will begin rotational deployments farther east on the continent in more strategic locations, such as near the Black Sea region. ''Our aim is to implement these moves as expeditiously as possible consistent with the principles I set forth from the beginning, particularly being fair to, and taking care of our service members and their families,'' the secretary said. ''We could see some moves begin within weeks. Others will take longer. As anyone can see, the repositioning of our forces in Europe constitutes a major strategic and positive shift,

wholly in line with the NDS and consistent with other adjustments the United States has made within NATO in previous times.'' Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, spelled out some of the specific movements planned for forces in Europe. The EUCOM headquarters and the associated U.S. Special Operations Command-Europe headquarters, for example, would move from Germany to Mons, Belgium, where they would be located with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. ''This will improve the speed and clarity of our decision-making and promote greater operational alignment,'' Wolters said, adding that a similar relocation could happen for U.S. Africa Command headquarters and the associated U.S. Special Operations Command-Africa, though no new location has been determined.

Wolters also said EUCOM intends to reposition three brigade-sized headquarters, an air defense artillery battalion, and an engineering battalion to Belgium from Germany, as well as move two smaller support and contracting organizations to Italy. He said the 52nd Civil Engineering Squadron, an Air Force unit, could be one of the first to move. The plan is to put that unit in Italy. EUCOM also proposes relocating an F-16 fighter squadron and elements of a fighter wing to Italy. Esper said the move will put those units closer to the Black Sea region, better enabling them to support NATO in the southeast. ''The proposal to reposition forces back to [the United States], ... with respect to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, will allow those units to regain maximum U.S. at-homestation readiness and more effectively support global contingencies while still maintaining a keen focus on Europe,'' Wolters said. There are also plans to rotate forward the lead element of the

“AFRICOM plans strategic relocation”

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano, U.S. Air Force U.S. Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, addresses U.S. military service members at Camp Simba, Kenya, Feb. 12.

Efforts are now underway to develop plans and options to relocate U.S. Africa Command headquarters and forces from Germany. The command will look first at options elsewhere

in Europe, but also will consider options in the United States. “U.S. Africa Command has been told to plan to move. While it will likely take several months to develop options, consider

locations, and come to a decision, the command has started the process. We will ensure we continue to support our host nation and African partners and our families and forces through-

out,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. The command stood up in 2008 and has been headquartered in Stuttgart since its inception.

Army's 5th Corps headquarters to Poland, Esper said, contingent on Warsaw signing a defense cooperation agreement. There may also be other opportunities to move additional forces into Poland and the Baltics, the general said. ''This rebalance, consistent with the NDS, will align NATO and EUCOM capabilities, better distribute forces across Europe and increase the use of rotational forces, thus bolstering our commitment to Europe,'' said Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ''It enhances deterrence and improves operational flexibility. Repositioning our forces and making consolidations will provide General Wolters, as the commander, increased ability to dynamically employ his force. This effort will increase opportunities to partner with and strengthen our bond with allies and partners in the region. It will also require additional planning and consultation with our allies.''

“It is important our African partners understand our commitment to them remains strong,” said Townsend. “U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with our African and other partners to address mutual interests.” Continued cooperation with German partners remains critical to solving complex international challenges. “We are very grateful to Germany for their partnership and serving as host to Headquarters U.S. Africa Command. International cooperation remains important to addressing mutual security challenges, especially in Africa,” said Townsend. Potential options will be assessed to ensure appropriate positioning of forces to deal with future challenges. The Department of Defense remains the lead for overseas force adjustment decisions and the global combatant command review. “We remain committed to our forces and families,” said Townsend. "We will conduct a deliberate and thorough planning process to ensure our team is prepared for what lies ahead.”


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Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

VVS annual ticket holders enjoy expanded offer in late summer

Photo by Bardia Khajenoori, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Tourists and locals explore a canal in Freiburg.

By Bardia Khajenoori U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Stuttgart community members with local transit subscriptions will enjoy a gener-

ously expanded definition of "local" this summer, courtesy of a unique customer appreciation campaign. Under the “bwAboSommer” program agreed to between the state government and transportation providers, an annual subscription in the VVS service area has statewide

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validity between July 30 and September 13 (a vacation period for German schools). This means that the same ticket that normally gets you from Böblingen to Stuttgart can take you to Heidelberg, Ulm, or the Bodensee for no extra charge. The offer is very similar to—but not exactly the same as—a BadenWürttemberg ticket and allows travelers to use their local transit subscription card as a pass valid for regional trains (IRE/RB/RE), S-Bahn, U-Bahn/Tram, and bus services throughout the entire state. Intercity (IC) and Intercity Express (ICE) trains are not included. The program is “the biggest thank you campaign for public transit commuters” in the state’s history, according to a press release by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport. “We want to thank the regular customers who did not cancel their subscriptions during the Corona period and continue to travel by public transport,” said Transport Minister Winfried Hermann, who added that the initiative is also intended to encourage residents to discover their region and take pressure off the road network in an otherwise busy period. Some conditions apply—for example, only annual subscriptions count (not weekly or monthly tickets), and those with a subscription valid only after 9 a.m. on weekdays must continue to abide by those restrictions wherever they are. Customers with a “TicketPlus,” which allows them to bring an additional passenger for free

within the VVS area at certain times, do not enjoy the same privilege in the statewide offer. Children up to 14 years old, however, can be taken with a parent or grandparent for free if using an annual ticket under this promotion, according to the VVS ( Additional answers to frequently asked questions are available (in German) at the VVS link above. To ensure you only use allowed forms of transportation for the “bwAboSommer” program or the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ticket, the free “DB Navigator” app allows you to select “Regional Transport Only” (in the Trip Planner, tap the area between the date/time and the search button; tap “Options”; tap “All Means of Transport”; tap “No” on the line reading “Regional Transport Only” to switch the option to “Yes”; and tap the checkmark on the top right of the screen; this will exclude long distance trains that are not allowed). The specific routes and areas of validity are represented by the yellow lines on this map: https:// ticket_map.pdf

Stuttgart updates diesel ban restrictions By Bardia Khajenoori U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart The latest revision to the Stuttgart ban on certain diesel vehicles has established tighter

restrictions for some areas of the city, including Bad Cannstatt— home to Robinson Barracks. It establishes a “small environmental zone” covering the city center (including S-East, West, and

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South), Feuerbach, Zuffenhausen, and Bad Cannstatt, and bans diesel vehicles with an emissions rating of Euro 5 or lower from driving into it. Vaihingen and Möhringen, home to Patch Barracks and Kelley Barracks, respectively, are not part of the smaller zone, though they remain subject to the larger environmental zone’s exclusion of Euro 4 and lower. Panzer Kaserne and Stuttgart Army Airfield are not located within either. While the new rules officially came into force on July 1, the Stuttgarter Zeitung and SWR have reported that enforcement will not take place until street signs indicating the change have been emplaced in approximately 160 locations, which is expected to continue through September. Violators will be subject to fines. For more information visit

Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020


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Hotel becomes home during COVID-19 By Rebecca Castellano U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart By the time the DOD stop movement order hit the Stuttgart community on March 25, the Stuttgart Army lodging team had been preparing for over a month to combat COVID-19. “We took note of what our counterparts around the world were experiencing and began to prepare for the worst in early February,” said Stuttgart Army Lodging Manager Chris Morris. As the first cases of COVID surfaced within the community, employees took on new duties on top of their regular requirements. Michael Marzett, a member of the supply team, began delivering groceries to isolated guests and staff as well as waiting in line at several stores to secure needed supplies. “I basically drove around to any store within a 20-mile radius looking for face masks, gloves, air purifiers, anything we may need to ensure that our employees and anyone who walked through our door would be safe,” said Marzett. “And I didn’t mind, because it needed to be done.” While the supply department was

ensuring the hotel had what it needed to maintain operations, Michal Meth, a front-desk employee, developed a new “touchless” check-in system to limit risk of contamination. “When someone arrives, they come to the front desk with their ID card and a copy of their orders. They show us, we verify the card on file is theirs and we have a packet waiting in the room for them,” said Meth. “Basically, everything they need to know is in the packet and they can review, sign it and then email or IMessage it to us. It is less face-toface interaction and it eliminates the need to touch the same things.” Morris praised his team’s creativity and ingenuity in the face of an invisible enemy. "What kept our operation mission capable was a combination of the courage and strong desire to serve of each and every member of the hotel staff,” said Morris. “They didn’t need to be motivated, they wanted to be here.” As most of the community switched to teleworking in early March, the hotel staff continued to provide lodging for displaced community members. In total, the team logged more than 720 hours of overtime since the start of COVID.

Between March and April, 18 employees had to quarantine, several with a confirmed case of COVID. Despite the risk of contamination, Meth said she never considered staying home as an option. “It was a no-brainer,” she said. “So many were going out sick. I knew management and my fellowemployees were working around the clock and I just wanted to alleviate stress and help out where I could.” Housekeeping supervisor Ümmü Kanis said clear communication from management helped her feel safe at work. “Management gave us all of the information we needed. They gave us everything necessary to protect ourselves and the guests. And they were always checking on us and making sure we were ok,” she said. Kanis explained that while COVID limited their ability to clean rooms every day, they delivered towels and supplies, using gloves and masks, and wiped door handles from the outside after each interaction. The housekeeping staff did their best to answer questions and explain procedures so their guests would feel protected. “We want them to feel at home while keeping them safe. It lets them

Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen volunteer Roselyne Okoth an Army Lodging employee makes a bed at the Panzer hotel.

know that they're in a good community, where we take care of each other,” said Kanis. From delivering extra cookies with COVID memes attached, to increasing wellness checks on quarantined guests, the team found new ways to deliver hospitality in socially distant times. Hotel Operations Clerk Amy Robida said it was their mission to be a place guests could go for clear guidance to help them safely integrate into the community. “We’re the first people telling them how quarantine works and they’re spending that time with us,” said Aimee Robida, the hotel’s operations clerk. “We really are the frontlines for people who are travelling during this crazy time.”

Robida believes that the staff executed that goal perfectly and bonded over their shared experiences. “It's amazing what our team did and accomplished,” said Robida. “I think the people who were a part of the lodging team during COVID have a special bond now and we’ll be a tight-knit group after all that we’ve gone through together.” The staff will use that bond and all that they have learned in their next challenge – a very busy PCS season. “Now with people travelling again, we have to be even more careful because the threat is still there,” said Robida. “But again, we’ve been preparing for this, we knew this was coming and we’re ready to handle it.”


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1. A hummingbird hawk-moth, in German called either Karpfenschwänzchen or Taubenschwänzchen, visits some flowers in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart 2/3. Stutttgart firefighters battle a truck blaze on Autobahn 8 near Vaihingen. The response and cleanup shut down traffic for six hours. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart

Stuttgart Citize







4. Patrons at the Exchange food court on Panzer Kaserne can dine in, but must sign in first. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart

6. People gather to enjoy the sunset at the viewing platform near the Teehaus in Weißenburgpark, Stuttgart. Photo by Bardia Khajenoori, USAG Stuttgart.

5. A German worker removes handwashing stations, a well-known sight for months as community members battled the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Citizen volunteer

7. Mulu Ezell, a family member in the Stuttgart military community, washes her car on Kelley Barracks in Moehringen. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart 8. Karlee Koepke takes a guitar lesson from Scott Staley at Patch Barracks. Photo by Aimee Koepke

9. Soldiers graduate from virtual basic leaders course July 31 at Patch Barracks. Photo by Rebecca Castellano, USAG Stuttgart 10. Built in 1928, the 114-foot tall Engelberg Tower is among the local sites near Leongberg, Germany. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart 11. A small pond, known as the Katzenbachsee, is just behind Patch Barracks in the Vaihingen district of Stuttgart. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart


en, August 2020

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Cycling to work in Stuttgart

Photo by Diana Lopez-Hansen Stuttgart Family and MWR Diana Lopez-Hansen commutes to work on her bicycle.

By Paul Hughes U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart When the COVID-19 pandemic forced citizens into their homes, decreases in public transport availability required commuters to find alternate means to get to work. With the country gradually returning to normal, infrastructure experts are concerned that people

will avoid the crowds of public transportation and choose individual transportation measures such as cars, which could overwhelm inner city roads. Another hope however, is that this could encourage people back on to two wheels. And local authorities in cities like Stuttgart are seeing this as an opportunity to promote cycling as a healthy way to

commute-one that’s not only good for the rider but also good for the environment. “Cycling is a great way to stay healthy (not only in times of the COVID-19 outbreak) and is a suitable alternative to gyms which in many cities had to close,” said Sebastian Ibold of the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative said. “But cycling is also

Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020 an effective way to support social distancing and to relieve the burden on public transport.” Diana Lopez-Hansen, a graphics arts designer with Stuttgart FMWR, lives on Panzer Kaserne and commutes daily by bike to Kelley Barracks. “I love the feeling of exercising first thing in the morning, especially right before work. It energizes me, I save on gas and its good for the environment.” Lopez-Hansen said. A large part of her commute utilizes the recently modernized fivemile long “old tank trail.” Closed to vehicular traffic, it travels through the woods next to the training area between Panzer Kaserne and Patch barracks. “There’s never any cars and for the rest of the ride to Kelley there are cycle lanes,” said Lopez-Hansen. There’s perhaps only 200 meters where there isn’t a bike path.” While Panzer Kaserne and Patch Barracks are practically joined together by this “cycle superhighway,” Kelley Barracks is also accessible from the same vast cycle network. Other communities benefit from this network, as well. If you live in the area to the southwest of Panzer Kaserne you can explore another cycling infrastructure investment

by the local council. A network of bike paths now link the towns of Gärtringen, Ehningen, Nufringen and Herrenberg to Böblingen. It provides a safe, mostly flat route that connects the towns to Panzer Kaserne, and then — using the old tank trail — to Patch and Kelley. To find a great commuting route for you, check out websites such as, or download an app such as komoot to get you out of the “Stau” and into the office. If you want to try a bike for your commute before you buy, you can always rent one from outdoor rec for as little as $23.

For more information, visit https://stuttgart. outdoor-recreation

Relaxed and resilient By Bardia Khajenoori U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Photo by Bardia Khajenoori, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Charles Fray takes a moment to relax in the massage chair of the Resiliency Resource Room.

Tucked away on the second floor of a nondescript office building on Panzer Kaserne lies an oasis of tranquility—or, referred to by its official name, the Resiliency Resource Room. Painted in a relaxing two-tone blue, the room has natural light, relaxing music, and water bottles for hydration. The truly hidden gem, though, is a state-of-the-art massage chair that offers full body massage and stretch functions, as well as more targeted treatments. The best part? It’s free to use and open to all community members. "Since all of us have had such challenging times, we just wanted to offer a little stress relief,” said Kim Roedl, Employee Assistance Program coordinator at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart. “Having the chair, having the room, the purpose is to provide a peaceful place to get away from it all." Studies have shown that even short massages can have a significant impact on stress relief, as well as pain and muscle tension. But in the wake of the COVID-19 concerns relating to close contact with other individuals, not everyone feels comfortable going out to get one. Measures are in place to ensure the

safety of visitors to the room, Roedel said, adding that the chair is sanitized before and after every use and that the space is wellventilated. An appointment system ensures that there is only one person in the room at a time. Dr. Kenyetta Thigpen, a teacher at Patch Middle School, is one of those who feels uncomfortable going out for the service and has been using the chair as an effective substitute for a pre-COVID massage routine. “I was completely surprised and was not expecting the chair to be as great as it was,” said Thigpen. "I feel like people in our community would feel more comfortable using the chair and the room simply because they know that there are certain protocols being followed,” she said. A visit has noticeable impacts on clients, said Roedel. "People will come in, and they're tired - not just physically, but also mentally tired. So to go in and relax, even meditate during the massage, people come out refreshed and re-energized and want to know when they can come back again." Appointments for visiting the Resiliency Resource Room, including the massage chair, can be made in 15 or 30-minute increments by calling the EAP coordinator at DSN 596-2530 or (0)9641-70-596-2530.

Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020


Passport office delivers throughout pandemic

Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Frank Jenkins helps a soldier apply for a passport on Panzer Kaserne.

By Rebecca Castellano U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart passport office is now taking appointments for services previously closed due to COVID-19. Customers can schedule a thirty-minute appointment on the USAG Stuttgart app for tourist passports and consular reports of birth abroad. “We couldn't accept customers for a 2-3-week time period,” said Frank Jenkins, a passport acceptance officer at Panzer Kaserne. “So, when we reopened, we experienced a big influx of customers who needed to report births or had expired passports or SOFA. We’re trying to get to everyone as quickly as possible.” Currently there are only two employees able to work in the office. They accept 22 appointments a day at thirtyminute intervals. Jenkins said that anyone needing a signature on a check-out sheet can just knock on the door and leave the appointments for those processes that require more time. “We try not to take calls when we’re in an appointment because we’re checking every detail on each form and if we are distracted, we can easily miss errors,” said Jenkins. “So, we try to focus on each customer and then take calls and walkins as we get time in-between.”

One common mistake Jenkins sees on forms are customers using CMR addresses for the passport delivery option. “They have to list our address in the block that says where do you want the passport mailed back to?” said Jenkins. “If they use their CMR, we can’t take it.” Another issue he sees is photos that are not two inches by two inches. “If you get it out in town, its often a visa sized photo and too small,” said Jenkins, who added that active duty, GS employees and dependents can have their photo taken for free at the Visual information office on the second floor of building 2948. There are also photo booths at the exchange or the gas station on Patch Barracks. “If they follow the checklist we have on our website, there shouldn’t be any issues processing their application,” said Jenkins. Community member Liz Jeffers scheduled an appointment for July 2 on the USAG Stuttgart app and used the online checklist to complete her paperwork for a passport renewal. “We were seen right at our scheduled time and were done in under 15 minutes,” said Jeffers. “They told us it could take much longer than normal to receive our passport due to the backlog of applications so I was shocked when I got an

email that it was ready to pick up 18 days later." Jenkins said that while it is not the norm, since reopening they have received some passports back in as little as two weeks. At this time the passport office cannot process official, no-fee passports unless the customer is traveling for official reasons within 90 days. Expedited no-fees will require a letter signed by a general officer or civilian senior executive. There is no option for expedited tourist passports in Europe at this time. “We’re trying to handle each situation as best we can and be courteous,” said Jenkins. “We know people have urgent situations where they have to leave right away and we will work with the Frankfurt consulate and get them emergency passports so they can get to the U.S..” As Jenkins and his coworker tackle the mountain of applications coming in, he asks the community for continued patience when calling with a question or checking in for an appointment. “If you call and don’t get an answer, please try again in a bit,” he said. “When you arrive for your appointment, please knock and then have a seat. I promise we hear you and are doing our best to get to you as quickly as possible.”

Page 11

Military relaxes restrictions to donate blood By Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen Volunteer

similar reasons turned out en masse to donate blood for those in need. In total, nearly 20 gallons were collected with almost half from first-time donors. “I always donate as many chances as I get,” said Adriana Yampe, a Romanian Native who was previously restricted from donating to the military’s blood bank. “I want to help keep O+ supplies full.”

The Armed Services Blood Program teamed up with the Stuttgart American Red Cross to host a blood drive June 21-22. In total, over 160 donors signed up to give blood in support of the U.S. Military. For many of them, this was their first opportunity since restrictions on donating eased. Stuttgart Army Health Clinic Commander Lt. Col. Maria Bruton For more information visit the was never allowed to donate armed services blood donor blood because she lived overseas facebook page for more than five years during her childhood. “I just checked the update about the upcoming blood drive, saying they changed the restrictions,” said Bruton. “I was so excited when I looked and saw I could finally donate.” Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen volunteer Many others A soldier donates blood to the Armed Services who had been pro- Blood Program during a blood drive at Patch hibited before for Barracks.

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Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

Ready Anytime, Anywhere Photo by Jason Johnston, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart A U.S. Soldier assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment rests his arms between a series of vehicle maintenance procedures at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.

Photo by Jason Johnston, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart U.S. Army Cpt. Austin Mcguire, commander, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, tests a vehicle communications system during Phase II of DEFENDER-Europe 20, Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, July 18.

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By Rey Ramon TSC Stuttgart The visual information team at Stuttgart’s Training Support Center tell their stories through the lens of a camera. The office, staffed by four visual information specialists, provides high-quality documentation of events throughout the Stuttgart Military Community and Europe. Recently, two staff members from Stuttgart’s VI Center traveled to Poland to document DEFENDEREurope 20, a deployment exercise designed to build readiness in support of the U.S. National Defense Strategy and NATO deterrence objectives. Although scaled back from its original size because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stuttgart Training Support Center’s visual information specialists were still ready and prepared to provide expeditionary documentary support during the two-week mission. As well as covering high-intensity, multinational exercises, their experiences also include covering sitting presidents, high-ranking politicians and general officers. While the VI center offers several less action-packed services like official portraits, photos for promotion boards, passport-size photos, and graphic design/printing services, they take every element of their mission seriously. “All branches of the military are represented here and I think our collective experience as members of the military allow us to think like our customers because we literally were them at some point in our careers,” said Takada. “That

understanding of how the military and each branch respectively works allows us to provide each client with a superior product.” Each member of this small, elite team understands the importance of service with more than 60 combined years of prior military experience and more than 22 deployments, including several to Iraq and Afghanistan. VI specialist Ken Takada said the team uses their collective service in the Army, Air Force and Navy to better serve the more than 20,000 members of the Stuttgart Military Community. “Our print shop has been used extensively during COVID-19 as a way for the garrison to communicate important information to the community, such as the HPCON signs located throughout the community and COVID-19 testing signs at the Stuttgart Health Clinic,” said Takada. “Although they may not be as exciting as documenting live-fire ranges or airborne operations, these services are every bit as important.” During the DEFENDER-20 mission the team documented a CONUS-based force conducting live-fire exercise in a field environment while training with European allied partner nations while observing all appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures. Experiences like this continue to motivate the VI team to always go where the story is, despite any danger present. They did it when they served in uniform, and they’ll continue to do it today while they serve as civilians.

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Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

Page 13

We are in this together! By Rick Renninger Principal Stuttgart High School Stuttgart High School Principal Rick Renninger announced the tentative lineup of fall sports for the 20202021 academic year in a message to students and parents. SHS will offer Golf, Singles Tennis, Cross Country, and Cheer, but not Football and Volleyball. Information on European Championships is forthcoming, and the European Athletic Games will replace team sports. Competitions will be made as small as possible to ensure social BACK TO SCHOOL, continued from page 1 Virtual learning will not be the same as what parents and students experienced last spring, Sanchez said. Elementary students will likely have three different teachers-for math and science, one for English and social studies and a third for electives. While the teachers may be from a different school they will likely be in the same region as their students. Students will not attend every class every day. Their semester will be laid out in advance and weekly modules will open on Monday so that parents and students can see requirements early and reach out to teachers during their scheduled office hours for any needed help. The new set-up will offer a change for many teachers as well. Sanchez said some are being reassigned and others have volunteered to bring the virtual school to life. He added that all teachers will be specially equipped for this new challenge.

distancing. Schedules are not yet available. Sports participation will require a current physical, and academic eligibility requirements are unchanged. The first day of official practice is September 8. There will be no practices before the first day of school, nor in the first two weeks. When practices begin, coaches will follow all CDC, DoDEA, host nation and local military protocols at all times. The European Athletic Games will consist of local teams of five boys, five girls, or three boys and three girls. Teams may train for no more than four days a week to prepare for weekend competitions at the school, “We have had great success with our virtual high school and we will train our transferring and new teachers to make sure they're up to speed and able to deliver this content effectively,” Sanchez said. Whichever option parents choose, they must commit to it for the whole semester. He explained that once registration ends, classrooms and schools will be arranged to accommodate the number of students enrolled in face-to-face classes and will not be able to add more. The same policy applies for virtual classrooms to ensure teachers can give each student adequate time for help and feedback. Students will have the option

whose dates are to be determined. Events will consist of 200 Meter Sprint, Two Mile Team Run, Deadlift, Standing Broad Jump, Kneeling Basketball Throw, Bench Press, Timed Sit-ups, and ProAgility Test. Each team member will perform all the Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart events. Details on The Stuttgart High School Varsity football team takes on the Lakenheath Lancers in 2019. individual and team scoring will be will represent them in a virtual provide opportunities for stureleased with the fall guidelines. Europe-wide competition. dents to compete. More inforLater, schools will combine their These plans are intended to mation will be provided as it is best participants into teams that keep our community safe and received. to switch for the second semester during another registration period in the fall. In the event that a COVID-19 resurgence forces a school to close for six days or more, students and their teachers on campus will return to remote learning, as they did in the spring. Virtual school will continue uninterrupted. “This has been and will continue to be a very close partnership between DoDEA and our garrison commanders and health officials,” explained Sanchez. “If they decide they need to go to HPCON-C then we drop back into remote learning and the students will remain with their teachers if that happens.” U.S. & GERMAN ATTORNEYS U.S. & GERMAN DIVORCES • SUPPORT ISSUES • EEO WILLS & PROBATE • EMPLOYMENT • PERSONAL INJURY MSPB • CONTRACTOR ISSUES • TAX ADVISORS


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The DoDEA team is working to provide a safe environment to reunite staff and students for the academic year 2020-2021. Rodriguez said all of the efforts will be worth the result. “I’m most looking forward to interacting with the kids again,” she said. “It's going to be hard not to be able to give them all high-fives, but we will overcome that. Plus, there's never a bad day in elementary school because if you think you’re having a bad day, you just go visit kindergarten.” Sanchez also believes that students and teachers are ready to get back into the classroom. “One of the things we’ve learned

this spring is that kids and teachers alike miss that time together,” he said. “And it won't be the exact same with physical distancing requirements, but they can still see each other and interact. It’s the best thing that we can all do right now to give them that socialization while keeping everyone safe.” Parents can register their child for school at registration.cfm. The deadline for virtual school registration is July 28.


Page 14

Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

Running, a way to exercise faith Photo by Geoffrey Morris, Stuttgart Citizen volunteer A Soldier participates in a physical fitness test at Panzer Kaserne.

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By Lt. Col. Dan Rice Chaplain Special Operations Command Europe Up or down? I prefer slight downhills, but I know I need uphill training too. As a runner, I have learned the hard way, through several “Did Not Finish” races, the importance of training. If I want to get stronger as a runner, I have to have a variety of workouts. I need to run hills. I need to incorporate sprint days. And I also just need days of easy running to let my legs recover but still add mileage to them. But still I prefer easy downhill running. Not the steep downhill



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trails that make your legs ache the next day, but rather the slightly downhill paths that allow you to relax and let gravity pull you along. There is a section of a trail behind Patch Barracks that is like that. It’s a groomed trail that is very even and slightly downhill. As I ran it recently, I was able to relax and dream of races that were only on downhill courses. If only… For our spiritual health, we all have preferences on how to “exercise” our faith and on how to get stronger. But if I am honest, at times, I find myself content to just float along, as if on a slightly downhill path. I enjoy a passage of Scripture

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every now and then, but I may not take it to heart. I might listen to a worship song and tap my foot along with the beat but not allow the worship to enter my soul. It is easy to coast spiritually just like it is to run slightly downhill. The Apostle Paul inspires me as he writes using the metaphor of physical training when talking about spiritual disciplines. He wrote, “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified,” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (English Standard Version). I imagine Paul growing stronger spiritually by pushing himself to spend more time in prayer and by wrestling to reach out to others who were different than himself. I don’t think Paul was content to float down the lazy river of quoting spiritual one-liners in response to difficult situations. Paul was intense in his growth plan and active in his faith. What about us? How can we grow stronger spiritually? Well for me, I aim to try some “uphill” training for my spiritual legs by leaning into racial reconciliation within the religious community. It is not easy work, but it is necessary for my spiritual strengthening. I have lots to learn. But thankfully, I also have many others by my side who are running in the same direction.


Stuttgart Citizen, August 2020

Page 15

Military spouse, mother of three, joins Army ranks Since Wendy Rodriguez was a child growing up in Mexico, she dreamed of serving in uniform. Unable to join the army in Mexico, Rodriguez remained undeterred and kept thinking about how she could serve. She married and started a family raising three children, now ages 10, 12, and 18. Eight years ago, her husband enlisted and in 2014 deployed to Afghanistan. Rodriguez, then a full-time student, took care of their three children alone. Rather than struggle with the demands of raising children as a military spouse, “I fell more in love with military life,” she said. Expressing both a love of the opportunities enjoyed by military families, and the community on a base, Rodriguez explained that the time reaffirmed her desire to eventually serve. Rodriguez said a long time friend, Maria Angelina, was another catalyst. “She always told me to keep pursuing what you do, and, to

use kids as a reason, not an excuse,” Rodriguez said. Last year, while living with her family in Stuttgart, Rodriguez sought out Army recruiters with hopes of fulfilling her dream. She passed her entrance exam, filed an age waiver and after 22 year, fulfilled her dream to enlist. Stuttgart Citizen volunteer Mac Hightower caught up with Rodriguez to find out some more details. Stuttgart Citizen: What helped you to adapt to military life?

ceremony was done by my best friend Maria, who is a retired colonel. I didn’t want to look her in the eyes because I would cry. The day was filled with a lot of emotions. We could start laughing and end up crying. It was impossible not to. Stuttgart Citizen: Where will you be going? And what will you be doing? Rodriguez: I will be going to Fort Jackson, South Carolinasame place as my husband. And I can’t really talk about my job. I’m getting a “secret” clearance.

Rodriguez: Finding good friends. Ones you can rely on for anything from something big to just someone willing to sit down and have a coffee with.

For more information on how to join the U.S. Army while in Stuttgart, contact the Stuttgart Recruiting Stuttgart, at 0162 2631241 or DSN 431-3492.

Stuttgart Citizen: How did you feel in your enlistment ceremony?

Courtesy photo Wendy Rodriguez poses with her family for a photo after enlisting in the Army.

Rodriguez: My swearing in

Retired Soldier, former paramedic, now volunteers to teach first aid

By Mac Hightower Stuttgart Citizen volunteer When Stuttgart military community members attend an American Red Cross class on CPR or first aid, there is a good chance they are

getting instructions from Steven Dunlap, a professional with decades of experience handling emergencies. Dunlap has been volunteering with the American Red Cross since the early 1980’s. Growing up in California, Dunlap spent summers in high school working as a lifeguard. It was then that he gained an interest in medical emergencies, which led him to become a fulltime paramedic in his home state, and later in North Carolina. Dunlap served in the Army, too, retiring from active duty in 1996. For eight years, Dunlap volunteered with the American Red Cross in Stuttgart, sharing his knowledge with people to help save lives. By

training others, Dunlap is preparing the Stuttgart military community for times of emergency. “It’s always been very important to me because of past working experiences on an ambulance,” Dunlap said. “It’s important to teach these classes to expose people to these situations.” Jennifer Worrell, ARC Stuttgart’s field office assistant, said Dunlap always goes above and beyond. “He is always willing to step up,” Worrell said. “He’s constantly looking for ways to improve the station and offer courses to the garrison community.” As one of just two people in all of Europe with the title “instructor trainer,” Dunlap goes all over to train others to teach how to perform CPR and first aid. In 2019, he certified 16 individuals to teach others. That enabled dozens more people to get trained on important skills. All too often Dunlap saw

bystanders standing around at emergencies, unsure of what to do, he said. “Showing up to a scene, there’s a 1,000 split decisions that need to be made in a second. It’s an adrenaline rush. The biggest thing

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Courtesy photo Steven Dunlap teaches a CPR and first aid course to community members at USAG Stuttgart.



to get across to people is how are they going to react,” Dunlap said.

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