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Fort Belvoir Topping Out Party
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Construction of USO Warrior and Family Center at Ft. Belvoir Reaches Halfway Mark

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

By Christian Pelusi 

When asked by his troops to describe what the new USO Warrior and Family Center at Ft. Belvoir, Va., will be like, Garrison Commander Col. John Strycula said: “Think of your home. Think of the most comfortable room that you have in your house. The place you go when you’re stressed, when you want to relax and just want to put your feet up and find peace and solitude. That’s what this building is going to be when it’s done.”

The process of constructing that environment reached its halfway point on Wednesday as Operation Enduring Care donors, project representatives, Ft. Belvoir servicemen and women and USO staff attended a ceremonial “topping out” event.

As attendees signed the final beam that would be hoisted for placement on the center’s roof, members of Scott Long Construction, the project’s primary contractor, took time to discuss where the project stood and how their efforts are squarely focused on making Col. Strycula’s description a reality.

“The roof work is starting now and our anticipation is that we’ll be watertight, under roof, by the end of July,” said Tom Mulquin, Senior Project Manager for Scott Long Construction. “Which is basically going to give us five months to complete the interior which is more than enough.”

Thanks to uncharacteristically warmer and dryer winter and spring seasons in Virginia, the project continues toward an on-schedule, on-budget completion date of January 2013.

“The big key right now is … get it under roof, get the exterior skin up and then start finishing the interior,” Mulquin said. “[There] is a considerable amount of site work, with the garden walls, a lot of stone, concrete walls, there’s landscaping, trellises on the exterior and all that work is going to go in earnest in the next three months. So June, July and August we’ll be out working on the exterior. The goal is to get all that completed in time for the planting season, which is the end of September, [early] October period.  … So everything is right on schedule.”

Inside, there are particular aspects to the project that are not typical to a commercial structure, to “give it a residential feel,” Mulquin said. The project has approximately 60-70 subcontractors (30 to 35 is the norm, he said) because specialists in fields like fireplace construction (for the 40-foot tall chimney that begins in the main lobby) and music room acoustics can ensure that troops and their families are able to enjoy the highest quality experiences possible.

“I think the troops are going to enjoy the ability to relax,” said Chris Carder, Field Manager and Site Supervisor for Scott Long Construction.  “And the video game rooms, the music rooms, the theater rooms, the art rooms. There are a couple of unique spaces that not every building has and I’m sure they’ll appreciate that.

“It gives them the recreational time, a place to seek some educational possibilities. I know the USO and the design teams have gone to extra efforts to make sure the outside features [are there]. [Like] the healing gardens which have proven to be beneficial in the recovery. All of that will help the troops move in the direction they want to move in.”

In other words: a home, sweet home-away-from-home.

* Learn more about Operation Enduring Care, USO Warrior and Family Care, the USO Warrior and Family Centers and consider making a donation today. 

* * * 

Photo caption: The final beam for roof support is lifted into place at Ft. Belvoir. (Photo credit: Hee Suk Ko) 

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