MWR offers diversions to CJTF-HOA troops

22 Dec 2002 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

From the battlefields of World War I to the Gulf War, organizations like Morale, Welfare and Recreation have provided troops with activities to help them relax and unwind.

Keeping up the tradition for service members of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, who are stationed here, is U.S. Army MWR program manager Jeff Nemeth of Galesburg, Ill.

"MWR provides troops with positive, recreational experiences," explained Nemeth, who holds a degree in recreation, parks and tourism administration.

The Western Illinois University graduate arrived here nearly seven weeks ago to provide those experiences.

"Part of my responsibility for MWR is what is known as "emergency essential." That means I am able to be deployed to support the military wherever it goes," he said.

Even if that means to a place where the average temperature in December is 85 degrees, like Djibouti, where CJTF-HOA troops are supporting the war against terrorism.

But it's not all work all the time because, according to Nemeth, the camp's MWR facilities are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This includes the library, the phone room and the gym, which is equipped with treadmills, stationary bikes and weights.

One of the popular spots MWR provides is the cantina, which heats up after the sun goes down, stated Baton Rouge, La., native Sgt. Eric K. Welch, administration noncommissioned

officer by day and cantina manager by night.

In the cantina, troops can utilize the "morale lines" to check their e-mail or make phone calls home, watch movies or sit outside and listen to music.

Army Sgt. Jeff S. Olsen, a medical supply soldier with the 388th Medical Logistics Reserve Unit from Hayes, Kansas, said, "The cantina is a great place for people to get away from the pressures of work and get their minds off not being home with friends and family. They can just hang out and make new friends."

Service members can also relieve stress by participating in tournaments, ranging from foos-ball to volleyball, which Nemeth organizes. He also is planning a 5K run and tours.

Nemeth has a lot of ideas, but putting his ideas into action is sometimes not easy.

"I think the most difficult things to do is get things built because even though MWR is a priority, mission related stuff always comes first, but I understand that," he said.
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