By Spc. William Taylor
314th Press Camp Headquarters
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Feb. 18, 2014) -- The United States Army Reserve values the community as an important priority in maintaining unit morale and readiness. The relationship between the Soldiers and civilian organizations remains vital to the success of efforts at home and overseas.
Through partnerships with the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham, the 465th Engineer Company conducted an Individual Readiness Training, or IRT, mission that brought new light to an area once ravaged by natural disasters in the community of Edgewater, Ala., Feb. 8.
Three platoons from the 465th Engineer Company out of Birmingham, performed interior and exterior renovation including remolding efforts to three homes to the Edgewater community, all of which were affected by the devastating tornado storms that occurred April 27, 2011.
More than 50 Soldiers worked throughout the day tearing down old roofing, laying new shingles, clearing out brush, and pressure washing mold and mildew from the exterior of the structures. Efforts to help revive the homes interiors required painting, installing new fixtures, and masonry work.
"This job is good for the Soldiers, because it helps keep their skills sharpened," said Staff Sgt. Dederrick Morgan, non-commissioned officer in charge of the IRT. "It helps also improve [the skills of Soldiers] may not have that skill set or do it on a day-to-day basis. We are able to come out here and maintain and improve on the things they need to."
The 465th has worked with Habitat for Humanity twice in the past three years as part of their IRT missions. Working alongside civilians gives the unit vital training that could be utilized during overseas deployments.
As we are going to be deployed in the near future to an overseas mission site, we would actually be able to go there and serve the nation and do great things for the country as we have always done, said Morgan.
"Being an engineer company, we build bridges and forward operating bases," said Spc. Derrick Stovall, 3rd Platoon, 465th Engineer Company. "This training is right up our alley and keeps us sharp in preparation for going overseas. There is nothing like using all the skills that the military has instilled in you to help people, because the community is what [inspires] our service."
Habitat for Humanity, through an agreement with the city of Birmingham, provides volunteers for work projects that benefit elderly, disabled, and low-income families that qualify for a grant.
Justin Mathias, who was the site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity, said that he enjoyed working alongside the Army Reserve Soldiers. Mathias has worked with Habitat for Humanity for more than eight years, and has worked with Soldiers three times during his tenure.
"The Soldiers get a lot done. They work together for a specific purpose," said Mathias.
The 465th plans to continue working with Habitat for Humanity for IRT missions.
"What we do out here is part of our military service. We give back to the community that serves us, and this shows the community we do care. The military has been and will be always here for that purpose," said Morgan.