Soldiers Celebrate Washington Readiness Center Rededication

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

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By Jill Kasparie

WASHINGTON, Iowa – Iowa Army National Guard soldiers took an afternoon away from drilling and training to celebrate on Sunday.

“Welcome to the rededication ceremony and open house for the Washington Readiness Center,” said Iowa Army National Guard Col. Greg Hapgood.

After a lot of hard work, the armory is finally ready.

"There have been tons of changes; it’s hard to describe how much of a difference this has made,” said First Sgt. Paul Ramirez.

The Washington Readiness Center is home to the 294th Medical Company. That means about 100 soldiers will now use the renovated facility.

"It makes our job a lot easier to have a nice, new building, said Staff Sgt. Alex Wickenkamp. “The facility has been updated so we can do our mission, we can do our job and there's a pride asset to it too.”

The $2 million, much of which was federal money, paid for everything from sprucing up classrooms to upgrading technology. Ever though debates over federal spending continue in Washington D.C., Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, noted that this was one story of success.

"With the cooperation of congress and the president, which doesn't happen very often as you all know at the moment, but we've been able to do quite a lot over the past few years,” said Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

The National Guard said the Washington center was the 29th of the state's 40 armories to undergo renovations.

"What all of the budget issues going on mean that it may be a while before we do many more of these,” said Col. Scott Ayres

The Guard said the construction projects that have wrapped up help with recruitment efforts.

"It's hard for me to try to sell you to join the National Guard to a building that's from the 1950s, 1960s,” said Col. Scott Ayres.

Now, the soldiers are ready to get to work in their newly-renovated center where they'll train for missions at home and overseas.

The National Guard said a little more than 100 Iowa soldiers still remain in Afghanistan. One more unit is making its way there now, which will double that number.

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