Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) relocating families receive VIP treatment during Orientation Weekend in Fayetteville
Fayetteville/Cumberland County had the opportunity to show Department of Defense relocating families impacted by (BRAC) firsthand just how much the community supports military families during Orientation Weekend, which took place April 23-25. Each of the 14 families being reassigned from Fort McPherson, Georgia to Fort Bragg that attended ‘Operation Fayetteville Wants You’ in America’s First Military Sanctuary Community had a unique and memorable experience.
“During the past 14 years we have moved six times and have never experienced such a warm and wonderful reception as experienced in Fayetteville,” said Larry Howenstein, an employee in the comptroller office at USARC relocating to Fort Bragg in March 2011. “When one hears the term ‘southern hospitality’ the image of a warm greeting by friendly people comes to mind. What we experienced during our visit was so far above our expectations that we truly felt welcome and were not only among friends but family.”
“I was around in the Vietnam era and there was the military and then there was civilian life,” said Chris Grover, president of Insight Medical Solutions, husband of Faye Grover, team leader, Combat Arms, Force Documentation Division, FORSCOM. “I was raised in the military and it was very refreshing to me to see a blended community where there was mutual respect, support and admiration for the people like our forefathers that signed the Declaration of Independence and have fought in every war since then to protect our freedom – but there is genuine appreciation, love and caring for not only the soldiers that are overseas and that are training but for their family, that is what America should be about. I would be proud to be in that environment and I look forward to that opportunity.”
The overall goal of the event was to illustrate to relocating military families the community’s offerings in hopes that these families will ultimately call Fayetteville/Cumberland County home. The weekend was not only packed with fun activities such as the Dogwood Festival and community tours, but was also information driven. Various area experts spoke about a variety of specific areas of interest including: real estate, education, economic development, health care, the arts, public safety, spousal employment, and community outreach. Key civilian and military figures including Mayor Anthony Chavonne, Cumberland County Commissioner Chairman Billy King, Commanding General of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Lieutenant General Frank Helmick, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Steven Sicinski, and FACVB CEO John Meroski, addressed attendees.
“The feedback the military families in attendance provided was overwhelmingly positive, a nod to the entire community’s efforts in putting together a successful event,” said John Meroski, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (FACVB) and chairman of the Army’s Army.
Each family was paired with a mentor from the Army’s Army, the world’s only volunteer organization of citizens and businesses who’ve pledged their moral, physical and spiritual support to those in the military and who are dedicated to doing everything possible to make soldiers and their families feel welcome, appreciated and safe in Cumberland County. These mentors, who themselves are Fayetteville residents, were able to provide advice and assistance to their relocating “buddies” and answer any questions the community presentations may not have addressed.
“The ever present staff of volunteers and the Army’s Army personnel in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Bordeaux were most helpful in answering our questions,” said Howenstein. “Specific questions as to the events planned for us as well as general questions about the area. Their extra effort ensured our limited time was put to its best use.”
“A lot of our questions were answered, a lot of my concerns about moving into a new community and trying to find the appropriate place to live, I don’t think we are going to have any problems, we met the right contacts we know that folks here will take care of us when we come here in August 2011,” said Faye Grover, team leader, Combat Arms, Force Documentation Division, FORSCOM.
For more information on the Greater Fayetteville Orientation Weekend, please visit http://fayettevillewantsyou.com/forms/relocation. The next Orientation Weekend hopes to be an even bigger success and is currently scheduled for September 24-26, 2010.
To view photos from the Orientation Weekend click here.