Fifteen Soldiers with the U.S. Army Engineer School departed Fort Leonard Wood this week, all on their way to Texas to volunteer time, knowledge and experience in support of the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
After reporting to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division in Dallas, these volunteers will be assigned various duties throughout the state, allowing them to give back to the community while gaining valuable experience during what would normally be a transitional period between school or duty stations.
"We are anxious to support the call for volunteers for the Hurricane Harvey relief and are able to support the operation utilizing our early arrivals awaiting class start dates or those who have just completed classes and are awaiting follow-on assignments," said Lt. Col. Kelvin Nichols, USAES interim chief of staff.
One volunteer, 2nd Lt. Robert Provine, said he can't think of any better way to spend the time before his Engineer Basic Officer Leaders Course begins.
"I'm excited to have a chance to put what I've learned into practice, being able to affect people's lives and hopefully do some good down in Texas," Provine said. "I think it's awesome to be able to help American citizens, that's why I joined the Army."
Before departing, Col. Kevin Brown, USAES interim commandant, met with volunteers telling them what an asset they will be to the Corps of Engineers in helping to fill the gaps in manpower.
"USACE will activate their civilians across the country, but that takes time," Brown said. "They need people to run distribution centers, they need trucks to transport equipment and eventually they'll need engineers to help to do other stuff."
Sharing his experiences in dealing with disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Brown told them it will be one of the most rewarding experiences they will have in the Army.
"They're our people, the United States of America, and there is nothing closer to us than something at home," Brown said. "You'll see as you do other things in the Army that this is one of the more rewarding things you get to do."