FORT POLK – Being at Fort Polk is a dream situation to Brigadier General Patrick Frank.

Not only does he get to aid soldiers in different ways, but gets to live near and interact with veterans and military-forward people in the community.

Brig. Gen. Frank took over the position as Commander of Fort Polk in late February, and he can be seen around at different community events and working on Fort Polk outreach.

"I did a little tour around to meet our local mayors early on. I took the Garrison Commander with me, and we were down in (Leesville) Mayor (Rick) Allen's office," Brig. Gen. Frank said.

"We had a great time and talked a lot about 3-10. You could see the connection between the mayor, the soldiers and our families.

“I think it's important to us at Fort Polk, because not all of our soldiers live here behind the gates. They live in your communities. To have those relationships with the leaders, locally, is very important for us. We can't just sit behind the gates. Our soldiers are living in your neighborhoods. They are accepted by the citizens out there in Leesville, DeRidder and Anacoco. They go to your schools and churches. They shop in your communities. They feel like they're part of it."

In just over four months, Brig. Gen. Frank and his staff on post have already entered into partnership contracts with Rosepine for janitorial services and with Leesville for landscaping.

Fort Polk will be involved in another community-outreach event on Saturday for the Military Appreciation Parade, and Brig. Gen. Frank appreciates the magnitude, historically, an event like that can have.

"It's not just 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain," he said. "The patriots are very important to Leesville and the mayor and everybody. But this is all of JRTC and Fort Polk that is participating in this. Not just the patriots. We thought that was important too. I walk by it every day; there's a portrait out on the wall of one of the old parades in downtown Leesville.

“We're, essentially, going to recreate that piece of history. That tradition between the fort and Leesville. You'll see it on Saturday as soldiers are marching down the street as part of outreach from Fort Polk to our local communities."

Leesville Mayor Rick Allen says that Brig. Gen. Frank's will to be at Fort Polk is the biggest difference maker.

"They get the small town and like it," Allen said of Brig. Gen. Frank and his wife. "This is his station of choice. He chose to be here. I don't have to tell you how big of a difference that makes in someone's attitude, performance and everything else. They're here because they want to be here. They don't mind the hot and the bugs. He's a very hands-on guy. He's not an office guy that sits back and does nothing. He puts eyes on it. He's like me. He's what I do for the city.

"When he sees things in the newspaper about us hiring military spouses, he hand writes me a note and sends it to me. You know he's busy, but he takes time out of schedule to do things like that."

Recently, Brig. Gen. Frank showed a group of West Point Cadets on post a photo, which he believes tells a lot about the community.

"One of the final photos I showed them, I pulled off my own iPhone. I pulled into one the turnabouts and took a shot running from the higher ground looking into Leesville, and it's all American flags," he said.

"American flags that run all the way to Anacoco and beyond. What I told those cadets was that you go to school just north of New York City, but this is a picture of the intersection of Louisiana values and our Army values. To see local people contribute their money to have that type of display of patriotism starts at our gate. Seeing that type of connection to their installation because we are their Army is a pretty powerful message they're sending to us."

Brig. Gen. Frank's love and admiration for the Army and his country are evident in just about any conversation he has.

His previous position before coming to Fort Polk was the 1st Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General and Fort Riley Acting Senior Commander and he has racked up an almost endless list of assignments. He has been part of nine different operations, including Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom I and V.

Brig. Gen. Frank has earned the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Ranger Tab, Air Assault and Airborne Wings, and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge during his time in the Army.

"I told those West Point cadets the other day that you have an incredible opportunity ahead of you," he said. "You're going to be a platoon leader. You're going to have 30 soldiers that you get to lead for a couple of weeks while you're here at Fort Polk. Love every day of it. Challenge the soldiers out there in your formation, from PT in the morning to training in the morning and afternoon."

Brig. Gen. Frank's day consists of PT every morning, meetings and updates until he can go out to the box during rotations to see the soldiers.

Being out among the soldiers, whether it be running in the morning or during other duties and helping them be ready for combat is a reason why Brig. Gen. Frank hopes his stay at Fort Polk is a long one.

"For me, having spent most of my time in divisions, this is an incredible assignment. It's a dream assignment," he said. "To come to one of the crown jewels of the Army: our combat training center, where I've done so many rotations as a Captain, a Major and coming through as Lieutenant Colonel and a Colonel. To come back here and be part of the team that is here that helps builds readiness for the Army and each of our rotations, I couldn't ask for a better assignment.

"I'd like to stay here at Fort Polk for as long as they would let me stay here. It's an incredible place to be."