Photos and story by Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, III Corps Public Affairs
(Fort Hood, Texas, October 23, 2021) – On the world’s largest day of volunteering, known as Difference Day, leaders of III Corps and Fort Hood, the United States Army Association (AUSA ), Soldiers and community members gathered at the Marvin Leah Visitor Center to clean up TJ Mills Road, the entrance to Fort Hood.
The event kicked off Make a Difference Day in conjunction with the second annual mentoring program initiated by retired 1st Sergeant Fernando Fernandez, vice president of the Fort Hood National Community Bank and Chairman of the CTFH Section Committee of ASUA. He developed mentorship after Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy visited central Texas.
âIt’s part of our professional mentoring program,â Fernandez said. We started this to help build a bridge between the community and Fort Hood. Yes, it is a cleaning, but it is more than a simple cleaning. It’s about coming together.
He said there is a large percentage of soldiers who live off post, so it’s about strengthening the community.
Command Sgt. Major Arthur “Cliff” Burgoyne of III Corps and Fort Hood thanked everyone for coming and discussed last year’s event and the success of community members.
âWe don’t own any roads outside of Fort Hood,â Burgoyne said.
He said the local community determined it was too dangerous to clean the road outside the gate, but they found a way.
âIt’s a chance to communicate, collaborate and meet people from the community together with soldiers and their families at Fort Hood,â said the retired Maj. gen. Ken Cox, ASUA Local Vice President. It started a year ago. Fernando Fernandez is responsible for the set-up.
He said that a few years ago the entrance was dirty and filled with garbage. There was garbage, there was furniture.
âA little pride for our organization, a little pride for Fort Hood, we made a decision together with the Command Sgt. maj. Burgoyne, to get out of here and clean our driveway. This is the second round of this.
He said he wanted to make sure new visitors to Fort Hood were proud of the organization when they arrived. The second part of the event is the mentoring.
âAt some point, no matter where you are in your military career, you’re going to take off your military uniform,â Cox said. âYou have to think about what you’re going to do next. If you see someone you know is not in the military, talk to them. If you’re a civilian here today, partner with a military man today so you can tell them about life outside the fences of Fort Hood. “
âThis is what we need as soldiers,â said Burgoyne. âWe’re so focused, so visionary about what we do in the military that we kind of lose our community site there. Find someone you don’t know, ask their name, where they’re from, and just start a relationship other than your circle.
The community gathered over 50 bags of garbage and cleaned up the area outside the front door, built relationships and established relationships, then had lunch together.