Veteran’s Day is celebrated every November 11th. It honors those that have served in the United States Armed Forces.
At Joint Base Myer-Henderson-Hall’s Central Issue facility (CIF), a cross section of veterans from every conflict since Vietnam come together to issue the equipment and ceremonial uniforms that are needed to carry out the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiments missions.
This eclectic staff has a unique perspective of Veteran’s Day, since practically every member has served.
Former and current service members come together and have a bond that is hard to replicate which exemplifies the Army’s Soldier for Life standard.
“Its an honor,” said Aleshia R. Billingslea, a former reservist from Long island, NY, who served from 1988-2004 and responded to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center attacks. “We all come together as a team, we’re like a family.”
Supervisor David B. Fertig agrees.
“Being prior service, you get to be apart of a team,” said Fertig, who served from January 1985 to January 2010 and deployed to Iraq three times and once to Afghanistan as a civilian contractor. “It is a real tight group we’ve got here.”
Ramon Ortiz sees a parallel with his prior service and CIF.
“I like it a lot, in the military, we had the camaraderie, we worked together as a unit,” said Ortiz. “So this is almost the same thing.”
Cobbler Paul Plaisance sees how the varied perspectives help with problem-solving.
“Everyone has their own point of view,” Plaisance, originally from Louisiana who from 1987-1996 deployed to various theaters including Panama. “Everyone has ideas about things you would never think about, they’d come up with.”
Master Sgt. Ilya Basyuk appreciates how the team convalesces around their shared backgrounds.
“Its amazing, because I feel these veterans that served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we’re together in solidarity,” said Basyuk, originally from Kazan, Russia who has served from 2000 to present with a year break in service in 2004. “Some of these veterans have taken off their uniforms, but they are still serving Soldiers in some capacity.”
“Everyday, a veteran should be taken care of,” said Billingslea. “In any kind of way that you can take care of them.”
Priscilla A. Guzman likes how much she is able to learn from her co-workers.
“You get to learn a little bit more about the history of the Army, why they served,” continued Guzman served from 1984-1989, and 2005 to present day as a supply technician. “Couple of them served before I did, you get to learn what their experience is and how the Army has changed from when they were in to when I’m in now.”
“The most interesting thing to me is to hear some of the stories, from like Mr. Jones who served in Vietnam,” added Fertig.“The detail that he remembers, I’m the opposite way, I have trouble remembering stuff.”
Elbert W. Jones, a retired Vietnam veteran who served in the Army for 21-years, and works as a supply technician at the CIF.
Jones said there is a huge difference between the quality of equipment he was issued in the 1960’s and what Soldiers are issued today.
The basic sleeping bag is Jones’ prime example.
“For example their sleep system, they have a five piece sleep system,” said Jones. “Most of these old Soldiers know we only got one sleeping bag, a big OD (olive drab) green one.”
“These young men and young ladies here, they are well taken care of,” said Jones. “I’m old school, this is your new model Army and I salute them.”
A record of service is not the only thing many of these veterans have in common. Many had parents that served over three decades in service, some have spouses that are currently serving or have served in the military, and some have children looking to carry on the tradition of military service.
Billingslea’s parents were both career service members. Fertig’s father was in the Navy for 30 years and his wife is currently on active duty. And for supply technician Ortiz, who served from 1988-1994 and 1997-2001, he rejoined active duty with his wife. Ortiz also has a family tradition of military service.
The staff at JBM-HH CIF has a unique perspective of Veteran’s Day.
“I think Veteran’s Day today is different than it was in the past,” added Fertig. “It brings the struggles of the service members a lot more to the forefront… more widespread, more celebrated than it was in the past.”
Guzman said in the past, Soldiers returning from Vietnam didn’t have the same level of community support returning Soldiers have now, so the change over time have been positive.
Basyuk describes Veteran’s Day with empathy for the Soldiers that have served or are still serving. His own experiences being deployed have given the Veteran’s Day Holiday a deeper meaning.
“Its kind of a touchy subject, because some of my friends in the Army have lost their
lives, and I really appreciate all of those currently serving worldwide,” said Basyuk. “I know how it feels, you are missing your children, your spouses, and you hope someone still remembers you.”
Veterans day means something different for all of these former service members at JBM-HH CIF, but ultimately for the staff, the day is about remembering the sacrifices men and women like that have made the world a better place.