Eighth Army conducts town hall for family members moving to Humphreys
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Family members likely to be affected by the Eighth Army's ongoing transformation had a chance to hear about all they have to look forward to during the June 28 Area II Transformation Town Hall.
Hosted by Eighth Army, the town hall was a forum intended to address the concerns of family members likely to be effected by the planned move of the bulk of U.S. forces in Korea to the Pyeongtaek area in 2017.
Discussion focused primarily on quality of life initiatives and new facilities during the two-hour "family-focused" forum, and according to officials speaking at the event, there are many.
Eighth Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal told attendees they could look forward to a quality of life that "will be absolutely superb."
"As you can see," Vandal said, "not only has our mission changed, but our quality of life for our families has changed as well."
Speakers who followed Vandal, primarily those sitting on a six-member panel of experts from organizations including the Defense Commissary Agency, Department of Defense Education Activity and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, elaborated.
U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys Commander, Col. Joseph Holland, said while construction will continue for the next seven to eight years, the work is past its "apex" and newcomers can expect to fall in on a host of new facilities including housing, fitness centers and chapels.
In addition, construction is nearly complete on two new movie theaters, what is expected to be the largest overseas Commissary in the Department of Defense and one of the largest Post Exchanges in the Department of Defense.
There are also plans for a 48-lane bowling alley, a new library and a golf course.
"There is irreversible momentum to occupy these facilities," Holland said.
School staffs at Camp Humphreys are also preparing for an expected influx of newcomers, said Dr. Justin White, who represented DODEA at the town hall.
White said the schools are hiring new staff members and increasing student capacity to a planned end state of 1,750 in school year 2017-2018. A second elementary school is scheduled to open in 2017 and a third is slated for construction if needed. Middle school students, who currently attend classes at Humphreys High School, will move into a new middle school in January 2017.
The main Post Exchange at Camp Humphreys will move from a 24,000 square foot facility to a 301,000 square foot facility complete with name brand vendors including an Apple Store, Michal Kors and Victoria Secret.
There will also be new gas stations, bringing the total number of pumps at Camp Humphreys from eighth to 24.
Construction on the new Commissary, said DECA representative Myoung Brown, is 97 percent complete. When it opens it will be 400 percent larger than the current Commissary. It will have 23 checkout lanes and "a lot more product, a lot more selection," Brown said.
One thing it won't have, Brown said in response to an audience member's question, is self-checkout. Brown said ration control restrictions make that option unavailable at this time.
Another thing that won't be coming to Camp Humphreys is a New Dragon Hill Lodge, Holland told audience members after being asked about the possibility of a second lodging facility due to concerns about often the popular Yongsan hotel is booked.
Holland said the Dragon Hill Lodge is a recreational facility, whereas the 238-room lodging facility at Humphreys will primarily be for in-processing service members and their families.
Vandal ended the session by reminding those in attendance of all they have to look forward to.
"This will truly be a duty station of choice, Vandal said. "A great mission, a great community and great facilities."
For those who missed the chance to hear about all of the changes coming as part of transformation, another town hall is scheduled July 28 at 5 p.m. and will primarily focus on service members and their families.
Or check out the Eighth Army Transformation Web site at http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/transformation/.