NCO acts as bridge between Housing Office, command teams

Master Sgt. Karl Gedeon, Baumholder Housing non-commissioned officer in charge, checks the Baumholder barracks spreadsheets before leaving for an appointment with a unit command team.

When Master Sgt. Karl Gedeon was told he was being detailed to the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Housing Office in Baumholder as the non-commissioned officer in charge, he accepted it as another challenge in his career.

“I was initially only supposed to help with barracks issues,” said Gedeon, 21st TSC, 21st Support Troops Battalion. “But, that morphed into helping all housing residents.”

Gedeon’s job is to be the conduit between the housing office and a Soldier’s command team. If a housing resident has an issue or isn’t getting the service they had hoped for, the Soldier can go to their first sergeant or command sergeant major, who can then go to Gedeon as the NCOIC of housing. The reverse is also true in that, if there are issues with the Soldier or family members, Gedeon can reach out to the unit senior NCOs or the commander.

While unit commanders and first sergeants have taken over ownership of single-Soldier barracks, the Directorate of Public Works is still in charge of maintenance and work orders in the buildings.

“I, and most senior NCOs, have all lived in barracks and military housing,” Gedeon said. “We’re insiders. Local national employees may not know the American military way of life or there may be language issues. I can step in and communicate with the Soldier and that Soldier’s command team from the housing office perspective.”

“We realized not having a senior NCO dedicated to housing specifically at the garrison, to work with CSMs serving as area coordinators in our housing neighborhoods and to work with first sergeants and their barracks, was a critical void that needed to be filled,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brett Waterhouse, USAG RP command sergeant major.

Gedeon accepted the position knowing he was retiring within a year. But, he calls being the Housing Office NCOIC one of the most eye-opening jobs he’s had in his 23-year career.

“I didn’t know the scope of effort it takes to make housing work,” he said. “It’s not easy getting a house or barracks room ready to put a new Soldier or family into. You want to give everyone a brand new everything. But you have to work with what you have.”

“Finally having a senior NCO, especially a leader like Master Sgt. Gedeon, has been instrumental to the Housing Management Division mission success,” said Jim Gillis, military housing deputy chief. “The resurrection of the Housing Building Coordinators Program wouldn’t have been possible without him.”

Gedeon said one of the biggest challenges in housing is one many commanders face in building a cohesive organization with unit pride from individual Soldiers. From Gedeon’s perspective as Housing Office NCOIC, he sees Soldiers in the barracks and families in houses individually. But, he said a tour at Baumholder would be better if everyone worked together to make the best of the situation and have pride in their homes and neighbors.

“But the challenge is, how do you build a community out of individual families and Soldiers?”

To that end, Gedeon is optimistic for the future.

“Give it five years and Baumholder will be the place to be with the new construction, balconies, parks, new covered parking, new schools and everything that’s coming,” he said. “That’s why filling out those housing surveys is so important. Today’s residents are setting the stage for the next generation.”