‘Heroes through Housing’ builds community morale

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Sirens blare and children clap as Kaiserslautern Military Community first responders drove through Ramstein’s family housing area during the Heroes through Housing event May 7, 2020.

Members of the 86th, 569th and 435th Security Forces Squadrons, 86th Medical Group, 435th Civil Engineer Group, NATO Military Police and Army NATO International Military Police were applauded for their work throughout the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Community members adhered to physical distancing standards while celebrating the first responders’ works.

“It was amazing to see people excited and the young children waving,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Torres, 86th SFS police services assistant. “(Children) were happy to be there, calling their brothers and sisters over to run down the street and get a view.”

While first responders usually make contact with the public in a time of crisis, events such as these help build support and ease COVID-19 tension, Montgomery said.

“The whole purpose was to show the public the first responder community is in this together with them,” Montgomery said. “We’re still (physically) distancing, but we’re also still here to keep the peace and protect the public during COVID-19.”

Organizers hoped to boost the morale of the community and give back for their support.

“We can’t have a huge fair handing out hot dogs and hamburgers, but it’s just something to show the community, ‘Hey, we’re still thinking about you,’” Montgomery said.

While events are important for community morale, Lt. Col. Jeremy Sheppard, 86 SFS commander, noted it’s also important to remember that things aren’t back to normal yet.

“Our big concern was obviously making so much of a draw in housing that we would inadvertently have a mass gathering,” Sheppard said. “We were happy to see that families took the precautions to keep themselves and their family members safe.”

The event has been in production for two weeks. Sheppard saw celebrations for first responders in the United States and considered whether something similar would be successful on Ramstein. Frequent communication between first responder agencies was key to getting the event organized quickly.