Soldiers arrive home to changing Vilseck

By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes

VILSECK, Germany — Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment are coming home to a community that has changed drastically during the 15 months they were deployed to Iraq.

At Vilseck, the post exchange — once the heart of the Grafenwöhr-Vilseck community — has been replaced by a furniture store. A new mall, including a PX and commissary, opened at Grafenwöhr. The 172nd Infantry Brigade arrived at Graf over summer and is preparing to embark on its own Iraq mission next month.

U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr spokesman Franz Zeilmann said the community is preparing for the Strykers’ arrival and reintegration.

“USAG Grafenwöhr used the deployment of the soldiers to update soldiers’ facilities and their working places with a very intensive construction program,” he said.

Garrison agencies will offer many extra programs to the returning troops including Outdoor Recreation trips, free child care, and sales and giveaways at the PX and commissary. Local German communities are also planning welcome-home events, he said.

The new facilities, new people and community activities were not the first things on the minds of some of the first Strykers who made it home in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

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