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Montana Air National Guard Airmen build workshop for Veterans Home

Community and military leaders gathered to officially commemorate the phase one completion of a new workshop at Grace Home Veterans Center. Military members, high school students and volunteers worked on the "Bandsaw Brothers" building that will provide a space for skills training for Veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield)

Community and military leaders gathered to officially commemorate the phase one completion of a new workshop at Grace Home Veterans Center. Military members, high school students and volunteers worked on the "Bandsaw Brothers" building that will provide a space for skills training for Veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield)

Members of Montana Air National Guard’s 219th RED HORSE Squadron work with high school students from C.M. Russell and Great Falls to build a workshop for Grace Veterans Home. The workshop will be used to teach Veterans skills that will help them transition to the workforce. (Courtesy photo)

Members of Montana Air National Guard’s 219th RED HORSE Squadron work with high school students from C.M. Russell and Great Falls to build a workshop for Grace Veterans Home. The workshop will be used to teach Veterans skills that will help them transition to the workforce. (Courtesy photo)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Airmen with the 219th RED HORSE Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, lent their skills and knowledge to build a workshop for the Grace Home Veterans Center the past two weeks here. Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers are specialists in many types of civil engineering, heavy horizontal, and vertical construction projects.

For this workshop, their structural expertise was put to use. The ribbon cutting ceremony for Phase One of the project, which was mostly vertical framing and exterior siding work, took place Oct. 25, 2018. The next phases such as insulation, sheet rock and electrical work will continue through the winter months.

Once completed, cabinet making and woodworking are a few of the job skills that will be taught to transitioning Veterans in the new building.

“The plan is to use the new space to give hands-on vocational training to Veterans using the Grace Home, and hopefully turn those new skills into a paycheck,” said Tech. Sgt. Corey Stubbs, the project manager and a structural craftsman with the 219th RED HORSE Squadron.

The MTANG RED HORSE has worked several Innovative Readiness Training projects. To enlist their help it takes a lengthy approval process. A process that begins months in advance at the local level with applications and site photographs.

“The initial labor recommendation came through from a local entity to enable the idea of RED HORSE participation. We see if the proposed project falls within the parameters of the Innovative Readiness Training Project guidelines,” said Senior Master Sgt. William Gamradt, the Operations Superintendent for the 219th RED HORSE Squadron. “Then initial request goes to the NGB [National Guard Bureau] and to the SECDEF [Secretary of Defense Office] for final approval. It can take between 60-90 days for approval that authorizes us to utilize manpower and other resources if needed.”

Once the application was approved, the squadron put together a team of specialists. For this project, the team included Air National Guardsmen, Active Duty Airmen volunteers from the 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and local area students from both Great Falls and C. M. Russell High Schools who participate in the Career and Technical Education classes.

“It was a perfect marriage, the kids working with RED HORSE, they loved it,” said Bill Chafin, the project manager from Grace Home. “The kids gravitated to them, asked questions. The RED HORSE Airmen showed professionalism and leadership. Without RED HORSE this project wouldn’t have happened.”

The feeling from RED HORSE MTANG Airmen was mutual.

“This was a blast,” said Stubbs. “The fact that we got to hang out with the kids, we are doing this for our Veterans, being able to put our skills to the test. It was a good training event for everyone and a significant impact.”

The 219th RED HORSE Squadron has completed several IRT projects throughout the Continental United States, but it takes on a different meaning when they are working in their own backyard of Great Falls.

“We were able to link up with the community, Veterans and High School students there, being able to showcasing our skills and having visibility in the community. The best outcome of this project is the impact that it will continue to serve for years to come,” said Gamradt.

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