By Zach Armstrong
PETERSBURG, Va -- Although some of the men and women in uniform stationed at the Fort Lee Military Base remained during Christmas and New Years in the midst of a global pandemic, it didn’t stop them from finding ways of celebrating the season.
The base’s Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation gave multiple opportunities for the soldiers who remained to have fun and relax while taking into account social distancing and COVID prevention measures.
Soldiers had special times available only to them at the on-post bowling alley, and some of them also attended special movie screenings at the Lee Playhouse, and took part in several sports programs on base.
The military base also organized an outdoor field day and Soldiers were able to attend a holiday light show off-base. In addition, the garrison and unit chaplains maintained a holiday worship schedule, and offered other religious-based activities. Some Soldiers went mountain biking, played pickleball, dodgeball and volleyball, among other sporting games.
Soldiers also ate a holiday meal on Christmas day in the post’s dining facilities. Soldiers and Families permanently assigned to Fort Lee — not trainees — had access to all the usual amenities on base, albeit some with reduced hours for the holiday season, as well as all the religious services.
In previous years, soldiers would partake in similar activities for the holiday season including bowling, organized sports, small unit parties, holiday meals and some off-post day trips. The largest difference this year was that cadre members, leaders and the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation organizers put in extra planning to make sure everyone followed the appropriate COVID protocols to ensure everyone was safe during the activities.
Many stationed at Fort Lee are trainees which were allowed to travel during the holidays although they were screened for COVID before they left and will be screened again before being placed into a Restriction Of Movement status to prevent the spread of COVID when they return. Soldiers who traveled during the holiday period were scheduled to return to the base between Jan. 3 and 6.
A statement on Fort Lee’s website read that “to make sure holiday leave goes as smoothly as possible, leaders started planning in August. They held rehearsals at multiple levels of command in October and November to get ready. Recent ‘Rehearsal of Concept’ exercises had the full complement of senior leaders and training, operations and medical staff scrutinizing movement, departure and reception, and contingency plans if any personnel contract the virus.”
The release went on to read that “before they depart, Soldiers will be counseled by their chains of command on the appropriate steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, elaborated Col. Jason Affolder, 23rd Quartermaster Brigade commander. This includes wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands often.”