Defense Visual Distribution Service: Senator Visits Troops in Pabradė
PABRADĖ TRAINING AREA, Lithuania — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester met with Soldiers stationed at Pabradė Training Area during a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) visit, Oct. 26, 2022.
The visit consisted of a tour of the facilities in Pabradė as well as an operations brief from Army Col. Richard J. Ikena, 1st Infantry Division Artillery Commander.
“Sen. Tester was here visiting Pabradė to see how our Soldiers in the great 1-66 Battalion are conducting business and how they’re doing within their operation of deployment,” said Ikena.
Tester visited the volleyball and basketball courts, gym, containerized housing unit and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center.
“A lot of times when these Congressional visits come they are really interested to see how Soldiers are living here in Lithuania so we give them a tour of our facilities,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul G. Lockhart, commander of Cutthroat Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
After the facilities tour, the CODEL received a brief on U.S. operations within the Baltic states.
“Their visits are extremely important to understand the context of what our mission is and how some of the different dynamics that they do in Washington are actually being implemented out here in the field in Eastern Europe,” said Ikena.
Besides logistical and overall operations briefing, a significant topic discussed was Operation Victory Wellness.
“As we spoke to Sen. Tester, we had the opportunity to provide them an overview of Operation Victory Wellness for all of 1st ID to give the overview of resiliency in our Soldiers,” said Ikena.
The Victory Wellness program is an effort for every member of the community to increase resilience across the five dimensions of strength: emotional, family, physical, spiritual and social. The 1st Infantry Division uses this resiliency program to ensure Soldiers are taken care of physically and mentally through resources and events that are provided to the Soldiers.
“Victory Wellness is part of how we operate in the environment of our partners and allies,” said Ikena. “It’s also how we operate by taking care of ourselves and all the inner dynamics that goes along with Soldiering.”
Lockhart said Col. Ikena’s comment on Victory Wellness really ties in well with what’s going on here in Pabradė at Camp Herkus.
“We have basketball courts, gyms, volleyball and lots of facilities for Soldiers to come out to after they are complete with work to decompress and take care of that wellness and holistic fitness both of mind and body,” said Lockhart.
Physical and mental resilience programs like Victory Wellness are crucial throughout all levels of the Army.
“The 1-66 is task-organized to 1st ID, so it doesn’t matter if you’re from Ft. Riley, Ft. Carson or any of the other organizations and installations,” said Ikena. “Victory Wellness is a program that ultimately helps us build resiliency individually and collectively and we were able to highlight the program and show some of the facilities here in Pabradė, Lithuania that our Soldiers are utilizing to make sure that program can come to life.”
The CODEL visits provide insight on how the Soldiers are doing and being taken care of downrange.
“We are living pretty well compared to some of our peers in different countries,” said Lockhart. “I was really happy to show Sen. Tester everything we have here at the FOS to show the Soldiers here from Ft. Carson, Colorado is very well taken care of.”
CODEL visits provide Congress an opportunity to see how Soldiers are doing down range by in-person tours of the facilities logistical and operational functions, briefs by commanding officers and interactions with Soldiers.
“CODELs come to understand what the operational environment is so that they have context as they are back in Washington overseeing the military,” said Ikena. “It was an honor to host him today and to give him an overview on what we’re doing operationally and how our Soldiers are living and doing each and every day.”