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Tax Center update: Average refunds higher but deduction changes under new law causing anxiety for many filers SEE PAGE 4

Fort Lee

SERVING THE COMMUNITY OF FORT LEE, VIRGINIA, SINCE 1941

Mending Measures

March 7, 2019 | Vol. 79, No. 10

TROOPS SHOW FIGHTING SPIRIT AT COMPETITION Nine hard-charging, AIT student teams gut their way through exhausting combat-skill obstacles during 23rd QM Brigade Soldier Stakes showdown

SEE PAGES 8-9

RALLY FOR RECOGNITION Instructor of Year, Honor Battalion among awards presented at first-time QMS assembly meant to increase visibility of outstanding achievement

Residents reveal serious housing de�iciencies at town hall; post leaders implement immediate steps to ensure greater oversight

SEE PAGE 5

SEE PAGES 2, 3

REFLECTIONS OF A MASTER CHEF Joint Culinary Training Exercise gold medalist and former NCOIC of Team Hawaii discusses obligation to lead and mentor junior Soldiers

SEE PAGE 7


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coMManD sPoTligHT | poSt hoUSiNg UpDAtE

Command team gets to work addressing housing concerns Numerous corrective actions have been completed or are ongoing to remedy the Fort Lee Family Housing issues expressed by residents at the Feb. 27 town hall in the Lee Theater (see article, Page 3). My garrison leadership team met with representatives of Hunt Military Communities, our Army housing partner, the morning following the town hall to ensure all parties understood the level of concern and urgency we place on fixing any deficiency that jeopardizes the lives, health or safety of our Fort Lee families. Participants of that meeting and other update sessions over the past several days have shown they are invested in getting this right – which not only means making repairs and improving housing conditions, but also figuring out where the breakdowns in service and communication occurred in the past. It’s vital that we not allow the same detrimental practices to reoccur in the future. Following are some of the most prominent corrective measures implemented to date: • The Energy Conservation Program, which required residents to pay any utility costs above a $50 threshold every month, was temporarily suspended March 1 to be reviewed by Army leadership. • Similarly, Hunt and all other Army housing partners have temporarily suspended collection of non-refundable pet fees while Army leaders review the practice. Further guidance is forthcoming. • All barracks and homes – with notice to and consent of residents in family housing – are being visited by organizational chains of command to fully assess the scale and scope of on-post housing issues. This will be complete by March 18. The garrison command team delivered notices of the visit to the front doors of each home on post earlier this week.

Fort Lee

Commanding General ................... Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg Garrison Commander ....................... Col. Hollie J. Martin Public Affairs Officer ............................. Stephen J. Baker Command Information/Managing Editor ...Patrick Buffett Senior Writer/Special Assignments .......... T. Anthony Bell Production/News Assistant Editor .................. Amy Perry Production Assistant............................... Ray Kozakewicz To reach the Traveller Staff, call (804) 734-7147.

We know this process will take time, and we have a lot of work to do to win back the confidence of our military families, particularly those most impacted by the inexcusable conditions and customer service described at the town hall session. Fortunately, I have observed genuine concern from the top leadership at Hunt. They have renewed their commitment to do what’s right in the long-run so occupants will not find themselves in the same predicaments in the future – and we will hold them to it. One important way we are doing that is by greatly increasing Army oversight of the housing partnership, establishing and making residents aware of channels they can use to alert us if they feel quality-of-life concerns are not being addressed or their home maintenance issues are not being resolved within timelines established by the housing partner. While the first step in resolving a housing issue here is to submit a work order with Hunt, the newly established commander’s hotline – 804-734-6300 – allows residents to initiate direct communication with myself and members of the garrison support team when they feel following that process has not resolved an issue to their satisfaction. We also launched a new webpage at home.army.mil/lee/ index.php/housing to provide information on housing issues, along with an online form that serves the same purpose as the hotline. We plan to hold more town halls in the future to encourage additional two-way, in-person dialogue and the exchange of ideas to improve our family housing neighborhoods, much like we saw at the Feb. 27 forum. As I emphasized when I stood before many of you at the theater last week, no service member or military family in this community should feel like their service to this nation is not appreciated, or that their concerns do not matter or should

The Fort Lee Traveller is an authorized publication for members of the DOD, printed by Gatehouse Media Virginia Holdings, Inc., a private firm in no way connected with the U.S. Government, under exclusive written contract with U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee, Virginia. Contents of the Fort Lee Traveller are not necessarily the official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government or the Department of the Army. The editorial content of this publication is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee Public Affairs Office. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts or supplements, does not constitute endorsement of the products or services advertised by the U.S. Army or Gatehouse Media Virginia Holdings, Inc. Everything advertised in this publication will be made available for purchase, use, or patronage without 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. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher will refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation has been corrected.

U.S. Army Photo

not be voiced for fear of repercussion. Each of you has my commitment – and that of every other senior leader here – to accept nothing less than the respectful treatment and enduring effort to provide the best quality of life possible for every member of our Fort Lee family.

– Col. Hollie J. Martin, Fort Lee Garrison Commander

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Patrick Buffett

Col. Hollie Martin, Fort Lee garrison commander, encourages on-post residents to speak freely about their home maintenance issues and living conditions during opening remarks at the Post Housing Town Hall Feb. 27 in the Lee Theater. Also pictured is Vincent Grewatz, director of IMCOM-Training, who spoke about the move to privatized housing. For more, see Page 3.


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Dozens attend Fort Lee Housing town hall; express wide-ranging health, safety concerns Patrick Buffett Managing Editor

Post residents painted a less-than-ideal picture of military family housing conditions here during a four-hour town hall session Feb. 27 at the Lee Theater. Around 140 community members attended the information gathering session that had been mandated by Army leadership after recent Congressional testimony and visits by the Army secretary and chief of staff to Fort Meade, Md., brought to light serious maintenance issues within base dwellings operated by commercial housing partners. Command team members repeatedly emphasized the intent throughout the meeting, underscoring their determination to assess the scope of the problem and implement sustained corrective actions. “You are all the reason we are here tonight,” said Col. Hollie J. Martin, Fort Lee garrison commander in her introductory remarks. “Your feedback is extremely important to us, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to listen to what you have to say; to hear about your concerns. Our focus is on the quality of life that you have here at Fort Lee. We want to make sure you feel you’re living in a healthy, safe and secure environment.” “We now realize we have fallen short in many areas with housing,” confirmed Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride Jr., Quartermaster General, who presided over the session in the stead of the senior commander who was away from post for mandatory training. “For that reason, we’re going to take a pause and figure out what is the state of readiness for our family housing situation. That’s why you’re here today. We want to hear from you.” McBride promised a “100 percent assessment” of all housing units will be conducted by installation command teams, with concurrence from residents, before the middle of March. Work orders will be

Patrick Buffett

Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride Jr., Quartermaster General, discusses the motivating factors and desired outcomes of Fort Lee’s Post Housing Town Hall conducted Feb. 27 at the Lee Theater. He emphasized the command’s determination to hear whatever housing residents had to say, and resolve any issues impacting the health, safety and security of military families residing on the installation.

examined for deficiencies of both timeliness and adequacy. “We’re going to set the books straight,” he acknowledged, “but the fact is we don’t know what we don’t know, so we want to get feedback directly from you to figure out what’s going on in this community.” Another way the garrison is facilitating two-way communication, Martin noted, is the setup of a commander’s hotline – 804-7346300 – through which residents can get help

if they feel quality of life concerns are not being addressed or their home maintenance issues are not being resolved. The commander displayed a listing of what is defined as emergency repairs – i.e. HVAC outages during extreme hot or cold weather, electrical hazards, gas leaks and water outages – and those that would be considered urgent such as a clogged sink, tub or shower; a range, oven or refrigerator failure; a wild animal in the home; and so on. The expected

response time for emergency issues is one hour, she noted, and four hours for urgent needs. Routine maintenance requests should be resolved within eight business days. “If you go through the appropriate work order process and don’t feel like you’re being heard, we want to know about it,” Martin assured. “You can contact our housing director (804-765-1976) – who isn’t Hunt Communities – or the commander’s hotline

SEE HOUSING TOWN HALL, page 10


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Public Invited to Joint Culinary Exercise

The public days for the 44th Joint Culinary Training Exercise are set for March 9-14, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., in MacLaughlin Fitness Center, building 4320, near C Avenue and 19th Street. More than 200 military culinarians from all five service branches as well as a few foreign countries are expected to participate. During the Military Hot Food Challenge each day, teams prepare a buffet-style meal that can be enjoyed by members of the public in a restaurant-like environment. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. and sell out fast, so be in line as soon as they’re available. For updates about the JCTE, visit www.facebook.com/army.culinary or call 804-734-3106.

First TARP Briefings Set for March 13

Ray Kozakewicz

Walter Stith, left, a Fort Lee Tax Assistance Center volunteer, poses with two longtime clients and friends, Gloria and Robert Jones of Dinwiddie County, Feb 26 at the TAC. Stith has been a volunteer at the center for 26 years and has assisted the couple with their returns for the past 12 years.

Preparers see mixed reactions to Tax Reform Act outcomes Ray Kozakewicz Production Assistant

While many income tax filers nationwide have been disappointed by the outcome of the 2018 Tax Reform Act, customers of the Tax Assistance Center here are seeing an increase in average refunds, but they’re discovering new withholding strategies are needed to avoid penalties next year. “Our average federal refund thus far has been $2,633 compared to an average of $2,041 during the same period last year,” said Capt. Jaron Janson, the Staff Judge Advocate officer in charge of the 2019 TAC program. “We have been really busy, and all is going well.” Janson admitted he cannot fully credit the new tax law with the refund increases. “If anything, the new tax law has created anxiety. About 60-70 percent (of those receiving the larger checks) are retirees who benefit from previously established guidelines. We also see people with more children receiving larger refunds under the new law.” Comparing his Feb. 26 customer numbers

to the same date last year, Janson said the TAC has served nearly twice as many people. The military and civilian volunteer preparers at the center have helped 585 clients and have retrieved about $1.4 million in total refunds. The number that’s truly impressive, though, is the approximate $135,600 in fees they saved customers had they used a commercial preparer off post. “We opened a little less than a week earlier this year,” Janson said, “and our walk-in hours were expanded to all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Last year, it was just in the afternoons on those days. Walk-ins are the bulk of our clients. On each of these days, we have lines early in the morning and again at 1 p.m. However, we are able to serve all clients each day. Last year, the building was jam-packed. Expanding walk-in hours has increased our efficiencies.” Refocusing on the 2018 Tax Reform Act discussion, Janson said he’s heard comments on both sides of the got-less versus got-more fence. The increase in standard deductions is

SEE TAX ASSISTANCE, page 15

The first Threat Awareness and Reporting Program briefings for this year are set for March 13, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., at the Lee Theater. The training is a mandatory annual requirement for military members, DOD employees and contractors with a security clearance. Personnel are reminded to bring their CAC for verification of attendance and to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start time to complete the sign-in process. Additional quarterly briefings are scheduled for May 8, Aug. 21 and Nov. 13. For other details, call 804-734-1569 or email charles.s.white8.civ@mail.mil.

ALU Plans Mini Education Fair

The Logistics Noncommissioned Officer Academy will host a Mini Education Fair March 19, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., in the Multi-Purpose Room at ALU, building 12420, 34th Street. The event is open to all DOD ID cardholders. Scheduled to attend are representatives from Central Texas College, Central Michigan University, Florida Institute of Technology, Old Dominion University, Saint Leo University, Troy University and Virginia State University. For additional details, call Andrea Farmer at 804-765-8883.

Exchange Rewards Good Grades

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is rewarding students in grades 1-12 who maintain a “B” or better average. As part of the “You Made the Grade” program, youngsters can receive a $5 Exchange gift card every grading period during the 2018-‘19 school year. To receive the prize, present a valid military ID and proof of an overall “B” average at the customer service area in the main store. Qualifying students including homeschoolers also can register for a worldwide drawing to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. The sweepstakes entry forms are found on the back of the You Made the Grade gift card sleeve. Students can send completed forms to You Made the Grade, PO Box 227398, Dallas, Texas, 75222-7398. For further information, visit www.shopmyexchange.com.

IG Office Services Available

The Fort Lee Army Inspector General’s office is available to any community member seeking help with issues involving suspected misconduct and unfair or illegal business practices on the installation. All consultations are confidential. Walk-in services are available. The office hours are Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and Thursday, 1-4:30 p.m. The office is in building 9028, near the PXtra, on Mahone Avenue. For details and appointments, call 804-765-1550.

Shoppers Can Win a $500 Exchange Gift Card

Thirty authorized Army and Air Force Exchange Service shoppers will win a $500 Exchange Gift Card in the Unilever NCAA March Madness Sweepstakes through March 28. A total of $15,000 in gift cards will be given out. To enter, visit shopmyexchange.com/ sweepstakes. No purchase is necessary. Winners will be notified no later than April 19. For other details, visit https://bit.ly/2xrnufu.


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Quartermaster brigade recognizes top performers, honor battalion Amy Perry

Production/News Assistant Editor

High achievers of the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade stepped into the figurative spotlight during a March 1 awards ceremony in Mullins Auditorium. Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride Jr., QM General, and Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Vidal, QM Corps CSM, were the hosts of the first-of-itskind ceremony. Too often, a commander’s time is taken up by the small percentage of personnel who aren’t on track, McBride noted. “What I don’t feel we do enough is recognize those great contributions,” he said. “The majority of our formation gets up every day with a great spirit and determined to do the right thing. We don’t spend enough time talking about those folks. We want to take every opportunity we have to recognize excellence.” The event kicked off with presentations of Army Achievement Medals to Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Fernandez, Instructor of the Year, and Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth K. Andrews, runner-up Instructor of the Year. Nearly two dozen military members and civilians were recognized as game changers for “displaying selfless sacrifice beyond the call of duty in support of the QM School and 23rd QM Bde.” Those recognized from the 244th QM Battalion are: Sgt. 1st Class Dewayne Massey, SFC Christopher Weeks, SFC Jonathan Capellansosa, Staff Sgt. Alexis Beches,

Amy Perry

Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride Jr., Quartermaster General, and Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Vidal, QM Corps CSM, pose with members of the 23rd QM Brigade and 244th QM Battalion command teams during the presentation of the honor battalion award for the 2nd quarter of fiscal 2019. It was among the highlights of a March 1 award ceremony in Mullins Auditorium.

SSG Rolando Garcia, SSG Damien Bechtel, Sgt. Latosha Claytor, Sgt. Carlos Santiago and Tony Bond. The recipients from the 262nd QM Bn. are: SSG Shalanda Banks, SSG Thomas Coyne, SSG Oscar Osorio, SSG Lashaumus Williams, Johnny Brown and Kevin Grobarcik. Personnel from the 266th QM Bn. highlighted are: SFC Bradley Williams, SSG Becky Moller, SSG Rohan Murdock, SSG Dimitry Razell, Pfc. Tamecia Cole, Alfred Hawkins, Rivero Frank and Michael Smith. Six Soldiers were named QM School he-

roes: SFC Shawn Brown, SFC Alvin Rivera, SFC Marcus Robinson, SSG Carlos Garcia, SSG Carlos Serrano and Spc. Amber Lee. Several Soldiers received the AAM for their work on the QM General’s 2019 New Year’s Reception. They are: Capt. Christopher Ladd, Capt. Adrian Rosado, SFC Gary Apatang, SFC Florine Faendrich, SFC Randall Summerford, SSG Yasmina Gomez and SSG Damian Munoz. Dedra Carter received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service for the same event. Maj. Kimerly Page earned the Army Commendation Medal for her efforts as the lead

project officer for the Army Women’s Museum garden dedication and grand re-opening ceremony. Capt. Justin Frizzelle and SFC James Ingerick received AAMs for their efforts as the assistant project officer and detail NCO in charge, respectively, for the AWM ceremonies. First Lt. Kokouvi Ketika, SFC Derek Lamas and Nichole Hernandez were recognized as volunteers of the quarter. Certificates of Appreciation were given to several employees who supported the brigade. They are: Scott Brown, Dana Bradshaw, Fritz Brandt, Michael Finnegan, Joseph Gilbertson, Dennis Todd and Jason Walters. The command team of the 262nd QM Bn. was awarded the 4th quarter fiscal 2018 and 1st quarter fiscal 2019 Fight Tonight Award, heralding efforts to train deployment-ready Soldiers. The last award of the afternoon was the prestigious honor battalion title for the 2nd quarter of fiscal 2019. The hardware and bragging rights were handed to the 244th QM Bn. “Honor battalion takes several metrics into account like instructor of the quarter or Soldier of the quarter, Soldier Stakes winner and the organization inspection program,” said Col. Greg Townsend, 23rd QM Bde., commander, who helped present the award. “Great organizations run without a hiccup. They run in an environment where every single leader is executing at the right level and there is no need for a surge of effort just to get up to the standard.”

Leaders pledge support at AER Campaign kickoff

Amy Perry

John Hall, deputy to the CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry III, CASCOM CSM; Col. Hollie Martin, garrison commander; and Command Sgt. Maj. Vittorio DeSouza, garrison CSM; fill out pledge forms during Fort Lee’s Army Emergency Relief Campaign kickoff program at the Lee Theater Feb. 28. The campaign goal for 2019 is to make 100 percent contact with all military and civilian employees on the installation and raise $111,000 in support. Last year, more than 600 Soldiers, retirees or family members received AER assistance totaling more than $1 million. Each military organization on the installation has an assigned AER key-person who can provide forms and assist with contribution questions.


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Recognizing Civilians | Spotlight

Edwin Morales-Aviles

Hometown: Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico Length of federal service: 36 years, 7 months (17 years, 4 months active duty Army and 19 years, 3 months DOD Civilian) Job title: Supervisory Financial Readiness Program Manager Job duties: Responsible for overall operation of the Garrison Financial Readiness Program within the Fort Lee military community. Elements of the program include Army Emergency Relief, Command Financial NCO programs, financial planning for first termers, consumer affairs, financial counseling, debt management, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Supervises and oversees Financial Readiness Program staff, and financial counselors. Works under the general supervision of the Army Community Service director who provides guidance on program policy and objectives. What do you love the most about your job? “Helping the military community find solutions to their financial problems.” What do you consider your greatest achievement? “Raising six children in a blended family and participating in raising many others.” Do you volunteer? “I have volunteered with activities within and outside of the military community to support service members and their families during the length of my military and civilian assignments. I always volunteer in my local church group.” What do you expect from your leaders? “I expect my leaders to have integrity, to clearly communicate, and to set the example.” Where would you most like to live? “After retirement, I want to live in Puerto Rico and North Carolina.” When and where were you happiest? “November 2018. Fayetteville, N.C. Got engaged to my future wife Jewel Johnson.” Do you have any pet peeves? “I like punctuality and don’t like it when people come up with all types of excuses due to poor planning or management.” Which historical figure would you most

Airmen claim basketball crown

Contributed Photo

The Air Force basketball team poses with its recently awarded second place end-ofseason award plaques at Clark Fitness Center. The squad went on to defeat the top-seeded Papa Company, 244th Quartermaster Battalion, team by a final score of 39-25 to claim the student intramural basketball championship title. Both had first-round byes in the 15-team single elimination tournament and had to win two games each to square off in the championship. Airman Baron Jordan led all scorers with 16 points. The tournament wrapped up Feb. 27 at Clark Fitness Center. T. Anthony Bell

like to meet? “Former President Barack Obama.” What is your greatest fear? “The unknown.” What is your greatest extravagance? “Cruise travels.” Which talent would you most like to have? “Playing guitar and keyboard.” What’s your motto? “Time is money.” Who is your role model? “My father. He was a hardworking man, and I learned so much from him about good work ethics and working hard for what I want.” What is it that you most dislike? “Dishonesty.” What is something people would be surprised to know about you? “I like to work on cars and do small home improvement projects.” What are your future aspirations? “After completing my assignment at Fort Lee, I plan to retire from federal service and look forward to traveling with my wife.” – Compiled by Amy Perry

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T. Anthony Bell

During the 2018 Joint Culinary Training Exercise, Sgt. 1st Class Jose Alves, then Team Hawaii’s noncommissioned officer in charge, competes in the Armed Forces Chef of the Year category that requires individuals to prepare a meal with mystery basket ingredients. Alves was one of roughly 200 military members from every branch of the service and four foreign countries competing in the annual event. The 2019 installment of the exercise kicks off March 9 at MacLaughlin Fitness Center.

Former Team Hawaii NCOIC fulfills expectations and more T. Anthony Bell

Senior Writer/Special Projects

The glamor of winning gold at the Joint Culinary Training Exercise is often fleeting. After the camera flashes, bro hugs and Facebook posts comes the real test – can the victor somehow turn his or her achievement into a teachable experience for others in order to improve military food service? The training exercise’s underlying theme has always been something akin to the catchphrase “each one teach one.” Meaning seasoned participants, leaders and winners all have the obligation to share the knowledge gained during the event with the food service infrastructure at their home stations. To do anything else is contrary to the JCTE’s mission. Sgt. 1st Class Jose Alves said he immediately keyed in on that expectation when he won the first top enlisted aide title in 2010. Ideally, he said he probably would have

served the military best had he been pushed out into the field to serve as a dining facility noncommissioned officer in charge where he could especially impact the green 92G culinary specialists fresh out of their Fort Lee training. That did not happen. “Right after the competition, I was offered a job to be the senior enlisted aide for a 4-star general, which is normally an E-8 position; I was a brand new E-7,” he said by telephone from Hawaii. “Expectations were really high at the time. Everyone was looking at me like, ‘OK, nobody knew who this guy was, and now he’s the enlisted aide of the year after being an enlisted aide for only six months (at the time).’ It was a great feeling.” Alves accepted the position he considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His action brings to light the predicament many winners face when career goals, personal desires and rare chances intersect. In his case, it was not merely because it was a 4-star billet –

specifically, the aide to now-retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly who was heading up U.S. Southern Command at that time. The assignment also would put him close to his hometown of Miami. At the end of the four-year hitch that started in 2011, Alves realized he was in an enviable position from a resume-building standpoint, and the ride could potentially continue as he was offered the option to stay on as the enlisted aide for Kelly’s successor. On the flip side, he knew promotion boards frown on stagnant Soldiers, and he was still feeling the aforementioned teaching obligation tug from JCTE. He decided it was time for a more conventional position. “I chose to go back to the regular Army and further develop my leadership skills as a senior noncommissioned officer,” he said of the decision that steered him to the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. “I wanted to get back into the fight.” Alves served as a platoon sergeant for

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about a year and was not working in a DFAC. In 2016, Team Hawaii won its second consecutive Culinary Team of the Year title and the command relished the notion of having the military’s top culinarians serving its troops. The Soldier who had thrived in the rarified air of commanding generals was offered the job as team NCOIC. Needless to say, the pressure to win the JCTE team title for 2017 was great, and Alves faced several obstacles. For one, he didn’t have the training resources extended to the previous winners – the command had used contractors to prepare Soldiers for the JCTE. Second, only one Soldier remained from the prior year. “We had to start from scratch,” Alves said. “I had to go to the different dining facilities and ask who wanted to join the team. It was a huge challenge and a lot of pressure, but we trained sometimes six or seven days a week leading up to March. In the end, it showed. The team was very successful that year.” Team Hawaii’s “three-peat,” as it was proclaimed in the Traveller newspaper, loudly echoed throughout the military culinary community. The feat tied the record for consecutive team-of-year wins, and ultimately, team members were more prepared to support the dining facilities’ mission. Alves wanted more, however. He continued to support a year-round training program, benefiting the entire 25th Inf. Div., culinary community and bolstering the chances of a “four-peat.” He also encouraged his Soldiers to earn American Culinary Federation certifications. However improbable, Team Hawaii prevailed again last year. Team members were better culinarians as a result of the training experience, and Alves was a leadership example they could emulate. Additionally, his name-brand recognition on the island and elsewhere was off the charts even though he has moved on. “Even now that I’m not the NCOIC of the team,” he said, “people still look at me like, ‘Hey, is Team Hawaii going to win that fivepeat? Is that going to happen? Are you still involved with the team?’’ Alves remains in Hawaii and continues serving as a consultant for the team. He had

SEE Chef ALVES, page 13


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DRAGON BRIGADE’S SOLDIER STAKES THROWDOWN PUTS CLASSROOM LESSONS TO TEST IN FIELD ENVIRONMENT Fifty-four 23rd Quartermaster Brigade Soldiers – nine teams of six troops each – braved chilly temperatures and steady rain to determine who would reign supreme in the Soldier Stakes event that took place at several training sites here Feb. 23. Tactical drills such as react to chemical attack; treat a casualty; and employ a hand grenade tested troops’ wills and skills. At stake were bragging rights and a notional understanding training and skills are critical components to mission success. When the smoke cleared, Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride Jr., QM General, and Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Vidal, QM School CSM, presented Army Achievement medals to a team from 262nd QM Bn.

Photos by 1st Lt. Jonduey Grissom

(CLOCKWISE FROM CENTER) A Soldier fires blanks at enemy positions; a troop scampers while teammates provide cover; reacting to chemical alarm, a Soldier tests her mask; troops advance during a chemical attack; showing signs of fatigue, a Soldier makes his way to the next station; Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride Jr. emphasizes the importance of skill reinforcement; a Soldier tosses a dummy grenade; and a team moves a casualty to safety.

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housing town hall, continued from page 3

number.” Vincent Grewatz, director of IMCOMTraining, was the final speaker of the prebrief portion of the town hall. Referencing the transition to privatized housing over a decade ago, he said it was necessitated by the Army’s long-term inability to get the funding necessary to maintain such facilities and the attractiveness of turning the responsibility over to experts in the industry. “(Over time) we found there were things we got fundamentally wrong,” Grewatz said. “We didn’t build in the accountability that needed to be there. Some of the associated financial stresses (BAH costs) should have been taken into consideration, and there wasn’t a clear understanding of oversight. “So what we’re doing here tonight, as defined by the chief of staff and secretary of the Army, is addressing a crisis; one of confidence in the Army. You, our residents, Soldiers and families, are not happy with the support we’re providing as a garrison and as a partner…. We have got some things we

need to correct that we missed when we built the program.” The forum opened for questions, and speeding through housing areas was the first topic of discussion. One resident of Yorktown Drive said it happens frequently, and he has tried everything from shouting at passing vehicles to capturing their tag numbers and reporting them. Another occupant of that area said she notified the military police but was told they were unable to ticket individuals based on unverified reports. Forum leaders offered a few proposed solutions, ranging from stepping up police patrols in areas where residents report the most incidents (a measure that was implemented the following day) to installing speed bumps if feasible. McBride encouraged the audience to keep getting tag numbers and reporting them so organization leaders can “get up-close and personal” with speeders to correct the problem that poses a hazard to pedestrians and children at play. A Jackson Circle resident expressed concerns about the general lack of interest in dealing with maintenance issues. “I’ve heard

about gas leaks that have gone unreported,” he said. “There’s mold that keeps being treated but people are told there’s nothing that can be done about it. There are people I know personally who are having electrical issues. They’re dealing with service cables laying across lawns like electrical cords. There are problems people are having that just aren’t being vocalized.” The resident made note of a gas leak near Bus Stop 9 that neighbors ignored with the assumption it wouldn’t be fixed. The command team asked for further clarification and assured the occupant it would be looked at immediately. The issue was resolved by maintenance crews the following day. A leaking pipe in the kids’ bathroom frustrated a Jefferson Terrace resident. “It flooded a closet at one point, then it leaked again and water went into a light in the kitchen on our first floor, which of course is an electrical hazard. When we called it in, they didn’t show up until the next day, and we had already cleaned most of it up to keep it from coming through the ceiling.” The water that penetrated through to the

light was never addressed, the resident said, and he expressed concern about the mold that has likely developed since then. He was one of several residents who reported chronic problem with fungus growth in the grout around sinks and tubs and in ventilation fans that they were unable to adequately clean with a vacuum as suggested by maintenance workers. “I have allergies now that I suspect are related to it, plus we have a son who had open heart surgery just last June, and I’m sure that stuff we’re sucking in is just not good,” he said. “I’ve asked about having someone come out to clean the ducts completely and was told the (housing providers) could not do that; we would have to set that up and pay for it out of pocket.” Other attendees reported similar experiences, including another Jefferson Terrace resident who moved here in June 2017. “By August of that year, I had already been taken to the hospital once for a respiratory issue caused by mold,” she said, “Just before that, our air conditioning

SEE HOUSING TOWN HALL, page 11


housing town hall, continued from page 10

unit outside froze and a technician came out, opened the door and said we should just let it thaw out. Then, a few months later, it froze again (with the same result), and there was no attempt to fix any leaks or resolve the problem.” Concerns escalated, she said, when their children began experiencing similar breathing issues and she would break out in hives within minutes of being home. “It was suggested that we need to move to a different house, but that’s another whole issue because it means relocating our children to another school plus there is all sorts of paperwork we need to get signed by the command and letters verifying we have enough time remaining here, or we can just give up and go search for a house off-post just so my family doesn’t have to go to the emergency room as often as we’re going.” Medical issues believed to be associated with mold were reported by another resident from Jefferson Terrace. “About a month and 1a half after moving in, members of my family began experiencing respiratory issues,” she said. “We talked to our neighbors and found out they were dealing with the same problem. We reached out to housing and it was the same story; getting it looked at was our problem and would have to come out of our pocket, which is real upsetting because we would be basically cleaning up what previous tenants left behind considering we just moved in.” She said her kids can’t use the upstairs bathroom by their room because there’s no fan, windows or other ventilation. “We tried using it, but the humidity buildup makes it hard to breathe and the mold keeps coming back no matter how many times we try to clean it up.” The same resident reported her oven stopped working on Thanksgiving Day after two previous repair calls, but couldn’t get it repaired because it wasn’t considered a priority and the technician told them they could cook their dinner over the open flame of the gas burner. The spouse also cited separate incidents when she and her husband fell into open manholes because lawn crews

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had destroyed the covers and they were not replaced. “Another issue is our countertop that a previous tenant apparently used as a chopping block because it’s all tore up,” the resident said. “Housing refused to fix it because they considered it cosmetic, but it’s not because it’s unsanitary and we can’t use it. It’s just bad.” The assembled residents reported loose fitting doors and other air intrusion issues – in one instance, having to run a stove hood fan around the clock to keep the cold air blowing outward. Energy bills ranging as high as $300 to $400 were mentioned often, and McBride made note of the Army’s request for RCI to suspend the Energy Conservation Program that incurs penalties for excessive power usage until further notice. Backyard fencing was discussed, with residents objecting to a costly rental fee of $600 from a third-party vendor to have a poorly constructed temporary fence installed. Hunt representatives agreed to look at that process to ensure it was fair and not price gouging residents. They also agreed to conduct an assessment to determine interest in universal backyard fencing. Neighborhoods with insufficient driveway space, requiring residents to park along the street, are reportedly not getting regular mail service because carriers can’t reach the box from their vehicle. The deputy to the garrison commander took on that task, saying he would call the postmaster to discuss a solution. Residents sought clarification about startof-lease pet fees and departure penalty fees for damage. Observing that money is being paid to correct damage during occupancy, but new tenants are finding damage, like a cutup countertop, left by their predecessor, the attendees wondered if the money was simply being pocketed. It was reported the following day that the Army RCI partners agreed to suspend non-refundable pet fees out of fairness. While a great deal more was discussed at the meeting, including several reports of unprofessional conduct by maintenance workers and uphill fights to get problems resolved, much of it reverted back to the

same key issues of mold, wet and damaged carpets, dirty ventilation systems and inadequate responses when repair work was requested. The notion of improving base housing conditions was not lost among the attendees either. One recommended a newcomers orientation coinciding with the signing of a lease agreement, “keeping in mind a lot of people coming here may not be familiar with the problems of humidity in Virginia or may be moving into a home of their own for the first time.” Both the command team and Hunt representatives acknowledged the value of the idea and agreed to pursue it. As the session drew to a close, Grewatz assured the audience their voices will be heard. “You do have the commitment and the ear of Army leaders,” he said. “I believe the housing situation is going to get better because of events like this and brave individuals like you who have stuck with this tonight to ensure we understand the full scope of this issue.” “I don’t know if I can thank you enough for the feedback you’ve given us tonight,” Martin acknowledged. “I know it takes a lot

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of courage to come here and it was at the cost of time with your family and rushing here from work without dinner for some of you. I applaud you because you want to see this fixed, and I get that. What you have said will make a difference.” An email statement from the Army housing partner read as follows: “Recognizing the importance of serving those who serve and sacrifice so much for our country, Hunt and Fort Lee Family Housing takes these matters extremely seriously, holds itself accountable and is committed to continuing to make necessary improvements to offer every resident high-quality housing. We are aware of the concerns and are working diligently with our local team members in tandem with our Army partners as well as Hunt Corporate staff, who will walk each of the homes mentioned at last evening’s town hall, to address concerns as quickly as possible.” Post housing residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the following website: home.army.mil/lee/index.php/housing. It will be used for progress updates, to disseminate educational materials and as a feedback conduit to installation leaders.


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Mold a key housing issue in wet areas like Virginia T. Anthony Bell

Senior Writer/Special Projects

Do you shower without running the ventilation fan? Do you opt for open windows versus air conditioning to cool your dwelling down when it’s warm outside? Do you have leaky roofs, indoor faucets or appliances? Answering yes to any of these questions associated with increased moisture levels within a home also means a greater chance for mold growth, which could put occupants at risk for health problems, according to Capt. Rachel Querido, Chief of Environmental Health, Kenner Army Health Clinic. Often called upon to conduct industrial hygiene and environmental health inspections at installation workplaces, Querido said moisture is the most critical factor behind the development and spread of the fungi commonly known as mold. “You can find it indoors, outdoors and on food anywhere around the world,” she said. “It is typically produced when there is a prolonged presence of moisture and humidity. That is essentially how it grows.” Mold is part of the natural environment and is not usually a detrimental health issue outside of a confined space, according to the U.S. Army Public Health Center website. The fungi reproduces via microscopic spores floating in the air and landing on wet surfaces. With respect to appearance, household mold varies in description. It may be fuzzy in texture, raised or flat, and colored yellow, green or black. It also may range in size and shape. Cleaning up mold is where residents need to be particularly careful, Querido said, because any sort of contact releases unseen plumes of spore particles that when breathed in can cause infections or allergylike symptoms. Wearing a filtration mask is advisable for small cleanup jobs like grout areas and tile surfaces around tubs and sinks. She raises a caution flag for growth patches of 10 square feet or more. “At that point, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of mold spores, and it’s probably

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better to let the professionals handle it,” she advised. “Just keep away from it and don’t touch it with your feet or hands.” The presence of mold in a home does not automatically mean its occupants are at risk of getting sick. “Only about 10 percent of the population is actually allergic to it,” Querido said. “That’s when you will see people suffer from itchy eyes, runny noses, sore throats and sneezing. In some rare cases, if you have a severe allergic reaction to mold, you could have asthma.” Allergic reactions may be immediate or delayed, according to the Army Public Health Center website. Also, there is no conclusive evidence that one color of mold is more toxic that others. The following home care tips will hinder mold growth, according to the APHC: • Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher, etc. • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly. • Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed. • Act quickly to clean up leaks or spills. If wet or damp materials are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.

• Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly. • Keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (may require the installation of a dehumidifier if it is not already part of the home’s HVAC system). • Vent appliances that produce moisture such as clothes dryers, stoves and kerosene heaters. • Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical (not while the air conditioning is on). Use fans when needed. If mold is already present, it must be cleaned and the moisture problem fixed, otherwise it will return, according to the APHC. Querido cited this example:

“If you find it on a wall, it could be that you have a (leaking) pipe behind the surface that allows the mold to grow,” she said. There also may be other signs mold is growing in a space, added Querido. “If you don’t see it, and you think you could have a potential problem, it’s probably because you’re smelling it,” she said. “That would be an indication you have some hidden mold growth and that usually requires a trained remediation professional for cleanup.” To remove mold on hard surfaces, wear protective gloves and a mask and use a scrub brush soaked with detergent or soap solution, recommends the Occupational Safety and Health administration. Thoroughly dry the area once it’s clean. Bleach is not recommended for mold because the chlorine does not have the penetration power to destroy the roots of the fungi and the water in the solution takes longer to dry, which encourages additional mold growth. For porous surfaces such as subfloors, carpets, drywall, etc., the molded area should be cut away, the OSHA guidelines recommended. Those experiencing recurring or expanding mold growth in their installation barracks should contact the facility manager for assistance. Housing residents can submit a work order by calling 804-733-1558 and choosing option 3. Further information on this topic can be found on the APHC website at phc.amedd. army.mil/topics/workplacehealth/ih/Pages/ Indoor-Air-Quality-Mold.aspx.


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chef alves, continued from page 7

intended to hold the position longer, but a phone call from the division’s commanding general changed that. “Someone mentioned my name and said, ‘You have a guy there on the culinary team who’s won two in a row,’” he recalled. “At the time, (Maj.) Gen. (Ronald) Clark was taking over as commander. He reached out and asked me to interview for the enlisted aide job. I decided to take a shot at it. I wanted to stay in Hawaii a little longer and this would definitely give me the opportunity.” Alves is basking in the warmth of his own success, knowing he is accomplished not solely on the merits of his own talents but also that of his Soldiers – as evidenced by their own career enhancements. “Those guys gave back; they helped me win, but at the same time I wanted to give back to them and get them ACF certified, which they all earned,” he said. “They became pastry chefs, sous chefs or certified executive chefs. The entire 11-man team is now certified from last year. That is a huge accomplishment for us.” Alves’ influence in Hawaii continues to reverberate. He said 2018 team members have gone on to work at the Pentagon, Secretary of the Army dining facility and some will be members of new teams in this year’s event. “It’s all about giving back,” said Alves, “I’m pretty sure it (the training and titles) is going to benefit them for the rest of their careers. Not only were they part of a winning team, but they developed themselves as culinary specialists.” So what’s next for the two-time champ? Alves said he intends to be a first sergeant and will continue to improve the 92-Golf community as a whole. “I want to give back all I accomplished – all the skills I’ve acquired in my 18-year career.” Alves is likely to get another phone call from a general. Whether he accepts another enlisted aide position is immaterial. He has a proven record of turning achievement into measureable results – via his award winning teams – and an undying commitment to bettering the food service community.

L ocal A ctivities

for the

F ort L ee C ommunity

K-9 Veterans Day Event | March 9

‘Fiddler on Roof Jr.’ Opens | March 8

The Theater Company at Fort Lee opens its second KidKapers production of the season, “Fiddler on the Roof Jr,” March 8, 7 p.m., at the Lee Theater, 4300 Mahone Ave. This timeless play tells the story of Tevye and his daughters as they navigate the crossroads between tradition and a rapidly changing world in a small Jewish village in Russia. The play features memorable songs such as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Far From the Home I Love.” The cast includes over 40 young actors. Additional performances are March 9 and 15 at 7 p.m. and March 10, 16, and 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for general admission seating and may be purchased at the door. For reservations or more information, call the box office 804-734-6629.

Virginia’s 6th annual commemoration of K-9 Veterans Day will be held March 9, 10 a.m. - noon, at the Virginia War Memorial, 621 South Belvidere St., Richmond. This free family friendly event honors the contributions of the heroic dogs that have served with their human partners on the battlefield and at home assisting law enforcement. The ceremony will include performances by military and law enforcement K-9 units. For more information, visit www.vawarmemorial.org or call 804-786-2060.

VFW Banquet | March 9

VFW Post 622, Petersburg, will hold its 99th Anniversary Banquet March 9, 6 p.m., at American Legion Post 2, 820 Winfield Road, Petersburg. Ken Wiseman, commander of VFW Virginia, will be the guest speaker. The event will include a performance by Isaiah Hicks. For tickets or information, call 804-790-9383.

ACS ‘Baby Basics’ | March 13

A free class – “Baby Basics,” presented by the Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program – is set for March 13, 1 p.m., at ACS, building 1231, Mahone Avenue. The session will cover bathing, diapering, soothing, breastfeeding and other newborn care. This also is an ideal opportunity to learn more about the support services available to first-time parents. Registration is requested. For more information, call 804-734-6381.

Chesterfield ComicCon | March 16

The Chesterfield County Public Library system’s 7th annual ComicCon event is set for March 16, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., at its 4301 Meadowdale Blvd. branch. Participants can come dressed as their favorite comic book, science fiction or movie character for a chance to win a prize at the free event. The celebration includes games, local comic book authors, comic book dealers and more. For additional details, call 804-3188778 or visit library.chesterfield.gov.

CYS Track Season Registration | Stavna Ballet Program | March 11-22 CG Scramble Signup Deadline | Registration for youth track and field, ages March 16 March 8 7-15, will be available March 11-22, 7:30 a.m. Participants can join dancers from Stavna Registration is open until March 8 for the Commanding General’s Golf Scramble set for March 15, noon, at the Cardinal Golf Club. The event will be a 4-person captain’s choice. The fee is $35 for members and $45 for all others. This includes green fees, a cart and food following the scramble. Prizes will be awarded. For additional details, email daniell.s.trevino. mil@mail.mil or call 804-892-3903.

Science After Dark Slime Night | March 8

Visitors can see and touch slime in every color of the rainbow during Science After Dark Slime Night March 8, 5-8 p.m., at the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond, There will be hands-on slime stations, slimemaking demos and more. Discounted admission is available for military ID cardholders. For details, call 804-864-1400 or visit smv.org.

- 4:30 p.m., at CYS Parent Central Services, building 10624, Yorktown Drive. The season runs from April-May. The cost is $45 for active duty military, DOD Civilians and DOD contractors, and $55 for all others. Proof of age and a current sports physical is required. Coaches are needed for several upcoming spring sports. For registration, call 804-765-3787 or 734-3069.

Read-2-Rover at Library | March 12

The Family and MWR Fort Lee Community Library will offer a Read-2-Rover activity March. 12, 5:30-6:30 p.m., in the Bunker Hall Café, Quarters Road, Army Logistics University campus. The free program includes reading for, or showing picture books to, certified therapy dogs. Registration is requested but not required. The activity is held the second Tuesday of each month, and it is open to all ages. For details, call 804-765-8095.

Ballet as they perform scenes from an upcoming production of “The Wizard of Oz” March 16, 2-2:45 p.m., at the North Courthouse Library, 325 North Courthouse Road, Richmond. Attendees will be taught some fun and upbeat moves at the free event. No ballet experience is necessary. Registration is required. For further details, call 804-318-8499.

St. Patrick’s Day Run | March 16

The Fort Lee Chapter of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club will hold a St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk March 16, 8 a.m., starting at CASCOM Headquarters, 2221 A Ave. The event is open to all military members, spouses and friends of Fort Lee. The cost is $25 per adult runner if the individual wishes to receive an event medal. Individuals are welcome to run the course for free. To register, visit www.raceentry.com/races/ samc-st-patricks-day-5k/2019/register. Onsite registration opens at 7 a.m. race day.

For more installation and outside the gate events and activities, visit our online calendar at www.fortleetraveller.com/calendar


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TAX ASSISTAnCE, continued from page 4

fetching a better return for many. Those who itemized last year – reducing their taxable income by deducting charitable contributions, mortgage interest, child care payments, and so on – are finding it may not work in their favor this year. Janson said mortgage interest, charitable donations and medical expenses are the “big three” factors when deciding whether to itemize or go with the standard deduction. College expenses, including books, can be significant as well. “It’s important to track these expenses,” he said. “You will not know until the end of the year how they will impact your tax picture.

We will help people when they come in to show them what is best.” A change in the Service Members Civil Relief Act, effective Dec. 31, can benefit military families in situations where the spouse moves with the military member, Janson noted. “There are other provisions in the act that military members should always take a look at such as declaring what their legal state of residence can be. This includes Florida, California and several others where it may be a benefit.” One law in existence for several years has helped retirees with disabilities. It allows a percentage of retirement pay to be excluded from an individual’s taxable income. “We are happy to help explain this to our clients. It is

Fort Lee

Classifieds COnTACT:

DEADLInE

Susan Irgens

Reader & Display:

757-477-7104

Thursday 4:00pm (week prior)

susanlou.irgens@gmail.com

important they bring in their VA Disability letter to help us prepare their taxes.” For the 2019 tax year, Janson encourages clients – particularly military members – to review their withholding forms. “If your marital situation or filing status changes during the year, it is important to adjust your withholding exemptions. For example, if you had 4 or 5 exemptions, got divorced and are now single, it could hurt you tax-wise. It may be beneficial to have more taken out of your pay. “Similarly, retirees may need to increase their monthly withholdings to avoid paying next year. An extra $25 or $30 a month can make a difference. No one usually wants to pay more taxes, but it could help later.”

Reach more than 10,000 active duty military, civil service employees, retirees, their spouses and the civilian community.

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The TAC serves active duty troops, retirees and their family members. It is in its 31st year of benefiting Lee community members with free federal and state tax preparation services. “I would like to get as many people into the center as possible,” Janson said. “It’s important they know they can utilize this free service. We have a great team of military members and volunteers available to help them.” The office is in building 5209 along 20th Street, near the Army Women’s Museum. It is open 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. The last clients will be seen at 4 p.m. For more information, call 804-734-5732.


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Profile for The Progress-Index

Fort Lee Traveller | March 7, 2019  

Fort Lee Traveller | March 7, 2019