Raising morale

By Maj. Brandon Mace, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command on August 4, 2017

Members of the U.S. Army Reserve 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), provided laundry and shower services during the two-week 2017 Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise, July 14-27, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

QLLEX allows U.S. Army Reserve units to provide real-world fuel and water support while training at the tactical, operational and strategic level. These types of events give units an opportunity to demonstrate their capability and combat-readiness.

Among the many unsung heroes of the U.S. Army Reserve are the soldiers providing laundry and shower services to units in the field. While they may not be doing the most glorious or glamorous job, it is an essential part of maintaining good hygiene and lifting morale.

The 242nd Quartermaster Company, based in Conroe, Texas, set up laundry and shower services at Fort Stewart, supporting the soldiers conducting QLLEX in that location. U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Michael Jatta, a shower/laundry and clothing repair specialist with the 242nd QM Co., said his unit plays an important role in supporting the overall mission.

"If you are not well taken care of, the mission is not going to be supported," said Jatta. "We are always going to support the mission, and for us that means we provide laundry so our soldiers do not have dirty clothes for their operation."

In Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the 340th QM Co., was hard at work providing the needed services. U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Leslie Bennett, a training sergeant with the 340th QM Co., said they were supporting 10 separate units with their services.

"Right now, we are supporting 539 soldiers," said Bennett. "They are very happy because they went quite a few days without a shower. They were about to go find a river or a lake, but they are happy now."

U.S. Army Reserve Pvt. 1st Class Sondra Scales, a utilities equipment repairer with the 340th QM Co., said she loves the reactions she sees when soldiers come in.

"It is great to see them happy," said Scales. "Soldiers come in here and they say ‘Yes! Finally showers. Finally a clean uniform'."

Showers may not seem like much, but to soldiers in the field they can mean the world. Sgt. Arturo Flores, a shower and laundry non-commissioned officer with the 340th QM Co., said it is a service the soldiers need to keep them pushing forward on their missions.

"It's a small thing, but it's a big thing, actually. At home, you don't see it as a big thing, but out here it's a big thing," Flores said. "Everybody is always out there, always sweating, always doing missions. At least they get to be clean during the night and can sleep good. They wake up better and are ready for another hard day."

Flores said it provides a big boost to morale and he can see a physical difference as soldiers leave the shower tent.

"The faces going in change as they come out," said Flores. "It's a morale booster. Everybody comes out and it's like they've had a weight lifted; they just feel way better."

These soldiers may not have the kind of job you think about when you picture the Army Reserve in your mind, but they are still excited to push ahead with their mission.

"We just have to make sure we have water and fuel so we can do laundry and run our operation," said Bennett. "As long as they continue to bring us stuff and we have work, we are good to go."

The 340th and 242nd Quartermaster Companies are a part of the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). The command is made up of soldiers, civilians and their families in units headquartered throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. As part of America's Army Reserve, these units are trained, combat-ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.