USA — ‘Virtual Installation’ Becomes Reality

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — The nation’s third Army Strong Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter, serv­ing ser­vice­mem­bers and their fam­i­lies who live in the Pitts­burgh area, opened here Sept. 18 dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny attend­ed by about 300 sol­diers, fam­i­ly mem­bers and civic and busi­ness lead­ers.

The cen­ter serves as a “vir­tu­al instal­la­tion” designed to sup­port ser­vice­mem­bers, their fam­i­lies and vet­er­ans by assist­ing those who are hold­ing down the home front far from the near­est mil­i­tary instal­la­tion when their loved ones deploy.

The idea was devel­oped by Lau­ra Stultz, wife of Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and com­man­der of Army Reserve Com­mand. The cou­ple attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny. Mrs. Stultz said she had seen the ser­vices avail­able to fam­i­lies on mil­i­tary instal­la­tions and want­ed to bring that same lev­el of ser­vice and sup­port to mil­i­tary fam­i­lies that do not live by a mil­i­tary instal­la­tion.

“Most of our fam­i­lies want to talk to some­one,” she said, adding that face-to-face con­tact can be cru­cial.

U.S. Rep. Tim Mur­phy also was on hand to open the cen­ter, and he said he under­stands the impor­tance of pro­grams that help ser­vice­mem­bers through his own ser­vice as a lieu­tenant com­man­der in the Navy Reserve Med­ical Ser­vice Corps, work­ing with wound­ed war­riors who suf­fer from trau­mat­ic brain injury and post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der.

“It is so impor­tant to have this pro­gram to help ‘wrap the arms’ around the cit­i­zen-sol­diers and their fam­i­lies to pro­vide the help they need,” he said.

Gen­er­al Stultz expand­ed on the impor­tance of the cen­ter and the ben­e­fits it gives to all ser­vice­mem­bers, espe­cial­ly if they are dis­persed. For exam­ple, he said, the near­est active-com­po­nent mil­i­tary instal­la­tion is a four-hour dri­ve from Pitts­burgh.

The center’s sup­port is pro­vid­ed by trained, qual­i­fied and skilled staff avail­able on a 24/7 basis and deliv­ered with a per­son­al touch, offi­cials said.

“We can­not do enough to give back, to sup­port our sol­diers and fam­i­lies,” the gen­er­al said. “Our men and women in uni­form are a nation­al trea­sure. The least we can do is to bring the sup­port to them.”

The oth­er Army Strong Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ters in Rochester, N.Y., and Bevard, S.C., and plans call for more cen­ters to open around the coun­try.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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