Photo by Staff Sgt. Rakeem Carter

Sgt. Carlos Madrid, a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer assigned 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and his wife Nicole Madrid, pose in front of a mural in the battalion headquarters, Sept. 6 on Fort Stewart.

The ‘art’ in ‘heart’: Couple connects with their unit through mural

Concrete block and brick construction, drop ceilings, and hallways lit with fluorescent bulbs. These are all familiar sights when visiting most Army facilities. But for Soldiers in the 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the view is changing due to the work of one couple determined to become a part of the Raider family. Over the last four months, 3rd BSB Soldiers have watched as a new mural has slowly come together in their headquarters building.

Sgt. Carlos Madrid, a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer assigned to 3rd BSB, came up with the idea to paint the mural after a permanent change of station from Fort Gordon in December 2021. After marrying his wife Nicole this past March, they decided to use the mural as an opportunity to connect with their new organization.

“My wife wanted to be a part of the Army so I came home one day and told her, ‘the Army has a [Soldier and Family Readiness Group] but I don’t think that will be a good fit for you,’” he said. “I spoke with the rear detachment commander and the command sergeant major about establishing unit pride and that my wife wanted to be a part of the organization and this was one good idea that we [all] agreed on.”

The Soldier and Family Readiness Group, or SFRG, is a unit commander’s program, comprised of Soldiers, civilian employees, Family members, and volunteers belonging to a unit. It forms a network of mutual support and assistance, assists unit commanders in meeting military and personal deployment preparedness, and enhances Soldier and Family readiness. For the Madrids, this program didn’t seem like the right fit to build the relationships they desired.

“Nicole does a lot of projects around the house so I asked her if she would be interested in doing a mural as a way to engage with everybody I work with,” Sgt. Carlos Madrid said. “At the end of the day that was what she wanted.”

Building new relationships and dealing with a permanent change of station can be stressful for many Army Families. After Madrid spent months deployed during the withdrawal from Afghanistan and then moving shortly after, the he and his wife were looking for something that would help them build relationships. For them, the mural became an effective way for them to connect quickly with members of their unit.

“Carlos is my first relationship with a person in the military so it was a completely different world to me,” Nicole Madrid said. “Sometimes as a spouse, you can feel like an outsider but through this project, I’ve been able to become a part of the team.”

The Madrids started the project in May, and have since started to build relationships within the organization. And while the 3rd BSB mural is almost finished, the couple has expressed interest in doing more around the battalion.

“When we were coming here he was really hopeful and wanted to get to know new people,” she said. “This project has really been great. I have been able to have a relationship with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

3rd BSB Soldiers have seen the Madrids working on the mural on an almost-daily basis since June. The interactions between the unit members and the Madrids have left a lasting impact on both parties.

“Having a spouse support the unit and take out her personal time to paint and do all of that stuff means a lot,” said Sgt. 1st Class Deandra Johnson, an automated logistics specialist assigned to 3rd BSB. “We hold her in high regard. We appreciate everything that she’s done and she is family. She is an extension of who we are as Soldiers.”

“It’s not only about a spouse and a Soldier working together,” said Johnson said. “It shows the Army’s view of Family first. Having the family take their personal time to do this shows the link between Soldier and Family.”

Staff Sgt. Rakeem Carter
1st ABCT Public Affairs