Va. Guard officer candidates complete community service project

Officer Candidates from the Virginia National Guard's Officer Candidate School Class 56 visit residents at Clay's Assisted Living in Blackstone, Va., May 24, 2014, as part of their Phase II community service requirement.  (Courtesy Photo)

Officer Candidates from the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Class 56 visit residents at Clay’s Assisted Living in Blackstone, Va., May 24, 2014, as part of their Phase II community service requirement. (Courtesy Photo)

BLACKSTONE, Va – Virginia Officer Candidate School Class 56 visited residents at Clay’s Assisted Living on Saturday, May 24, 2014, as part of their Phase II community service requirement. Officer candidates coordinated with Barbara Mosley, a manager at Clay’s Assisted Living, to orchestrate a presence patrol at the center.

One of the officer candidates in charge of the project, Officer Candidate Zach Barnett, had this to say in regard to why the class chose to visit the assisted living center: “Fort Pickett has been a part of the Blackstone community for a long time, and it is important to give back to the rest of the community that has been so supportive of us.”

“The community project was a great way to bring the Guard and members of the Blackstone community together. As a member of the National Guard, part of my mission is to serve the community. This project allowed me to actually meet and invest in some of those wonderful individuals. I met veterans from both the Korean and Vietnam War eras. One of the most memorable stories came from a resident whose husband was stationed in Italy during WWII and recalled when Dictator Benito Mussolini was captured and executed. The residents of Clay’s Assisted Living are a warm and welcoming group. I urge Guard members and local residents alike to pay them a visit,” said Barnett.

Built in 1894, Clay’s Assisted Living was originally a military school for boys – the Hodge Military Academy. After closing in 1907, it reopened as Blackstone Military Academy in 1912. It was later renovated in 1922 due to a fire. In 1963 it opened as Clay’s Residential Facility, until it was sold in 2007, and became the assisted living center it is today.

“I was surprised and happy to see how much joy our visit brought to the residents of Clay’s Assisted Living. The staff informed us that most residents don’t have much contact with the families that bring them there, and visitors are rare. Miss Mosley said they were very excited when they heard we were coming, and the visit would be the topic of conversation for weeks to come. It was a humbling experience to hear of the service of the veterans living there, and I was grateful for the opportunity,” said Officer Candidate Matt Henry, another project leader.

The nine officer candidates that comprise Class 56 are primarily officer candidate option enlistees. Three officer candidates have prior service with the Army National Guard and the Marine Corps Reserves. They will begin Phase III at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland this month, and will graduate and commission in July at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute Auditorium.

Story by Senior Officer Candidate Elaina Orphanides.

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