Re: BSA in the Military
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 16:44:17 -0600
Terry Slade asked:
>A while back; Somebody made the statement that "Each military base in
>the U.S. has in their Public Relations department, a Scout laison, for
>dealing with traveling Troops". If this is true, and I would hope that it is,
>how do you get ahold of the "Right" person at each individual base?
You've already hit on one resource: your local Council office can assist you
(if they really want to) by coordinating with military units within their
territory for the information you are looking for. Sometimes they will even
make the appropriate reservations and "field work" for you...depends on
who you talk with at your Council, how "military-friendly" they are, and
of course, whom they talk with on the other end of the line or during a
Some military installations do provide within their "Morale, Welfare and
Recreation" (MWR) sections of their web pages information which can
be of help. MWR is a universal "alphabet soup" name, so if you use that as a
key word, you should be able to get some information electronically. No
promises, but things are getting better with more and more facilities using
electronic means to convey their availability to the public and to the military
public in particular.
You've already read that there's not ONE specified "office" that handles
relations between youth organizations and the military service. However,
there's a sure-fire, almost 99.5% way of insuring that your request gets to
the "right person" no matter if the place is Army, Navy, Marine or Air:
Write a letter, addressing it to
(name of facility or installation)
ATTN: Scouting Coordinator/Officer
(full address of the facility or installation)
(city, state and ZIP code of facility or installation)
Send it RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED (it will cost you another 40-60
cents, but as you will read is well worth the additional cost) to the
COMMANDER. You will have to fill out the green postal card and have
the post office to affix the card to the backside of the letter.
Now, what happens??? Your mail, along with everyone else's mail that
goes to that installation, goes into a bin. Since the majority of the mail
going to a post or installation is addressed to the COMMANDER, it
already has jumped over the "garbage mail" bin and one-third of the way
to the person you need.
Mail which is sent to a military facility and must be signed for goes into
another bin, where it is opened, read COMPLETELY and forwarded to
the appropriate staff officer or soldier for action. At Air Force and Army
facilities I am familiar with, not only does that mail get "special handling",
it is also "logged" so that if you haven't heard anything (that's the reason
why you should send it so that you get that green card back with SOMEONE'S
signature and name on it!), you can call the installation and ask for "Mr.
Soandso", the person that signed the card.
Because, as Jim-Van and others already told you, the "Scouting Coordinator"
positions move around at the will of the installation commander and the person
concerned, sending your request to the Commander will insure that it reaches
that person and office that you are requesting information from. Don't be
surprised if you receive more than one response, because at many Army facilities
(I'm familiar with four in particular: Knox, Campbell, Jackson and Gordon) such
requests are coordinated among three or four offices, all with resources which
may be available: the Scouting Coordinator/Officer, the base's housing office,
the Reserve Components staff office, and the Recruiting station/office. All of
those groups have a SMALL (emphasis on the word SMALL here) pool of
funding to pay for special tours, stays and visits by recognized official groups
carrying a valid permit or permission tools.
Finally, don't just write to a installation and expect us to "interpret what
asking for"...follow it up please with a phone call or two. Yes, the
the military leaves a lot to be desired, especially when you're a former
trying to reach someone at a Navy or Coast Guard installation and they keep
sending you to some "petty officer" *grinning*. (Petty Officers are the Naval
equals to Army Non-Commissioned Officers, or NCOs ("Sergeants").
As the Installation Scouting Coordinator at Fort Gordon, Georgia, Major General
James Harris, a former Scouter and Scout, many times sent me copies of
received from Scouters wanting accommodations or a tour of the Land of Signal.
Normally, he or his Chief of Staff will write on a corner of the letter
"NO", "coordinate travel w/ PAO (public affairs officer)", or something like
However, he received a really nice letter from a Senior Patrol Leader
seeing how "does the Army talk to each other" and "Can you really talk to the
President from the foxhole" (a reference to a recruiting poster that the
sends to school districts in the South).
General Harris' comment was "Mike. Pull out all of the stops. Let's make this
event memorable for his Boy Scout Group. SEE ME". Twenty minutes after I
received the marked-up letter in distribution, I was at his penthouse office
top floor of Signal Tower.
He had already talked it over with the Post Sergeant Major, the Public
Affairs Officer and a commander of one of the Signal Training Brigades (this
guy had no
clue about Scouting but I liked him). The Troop arrived, were placed in the
set of barracks (empty due to a deployment of the company to Panama), ate at
the dining facility twice, and got to see that demostration of how the
can indeed talk from the middle of "nowhere" to the White House. The Senior
Patrol Leader placed the call, and the White House Communications Agency (a
Signal Corps unit) answered the call. To insure the kid it was not a houx, the
officer at the White House got his address and the address of the Troop and sent
them autographed photos of the President, Vice President, White House, and two
certificates from the WHCA.
The Army was playing around with something called "mobile subscriber
equipment", or MSE, which included a tactical fax machine. The White House
faxed greetings to the Troop from the Office of the President which REALLY
"wowed" even me...I had never seen that part of the equipment demostrated
The Command wrote it off as a "stragetic contigency training exercise", which it
was. The Troop had a great four-day weekend, and there's some kid from the
middle part of Alabama that has lots of nice photos and his Troop a special
keepsake for asking politely for time and space at a military installation.
(and I got one of those "pats on the back" from my boss, the Installation
Commander for coordinating yet another visit of future Signalmen...didn't
I was having a great time being both Signaleer and Scouter!)
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)
(Brigade) Signal Officer, TF 21, 21st Theater Army Area Command
Kaiserslautern, Federal Republic of Germany
"everything I say is "on the record"; speaking ONLY for myself unless indicated"
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-----FORWARD in service to youth and the nation-----
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City