Freedom Team Salute
What is it?
The U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute (FTS) Commendation Program was created by the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff to honor all U.S. Army veterans and to provide Soldiers—Active Component, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve—the opportunity to officially recognize those who support them. Launched in May 2005, the program honors Army spouses, parents, and employers for the tremendous value they bring to the Army Family.
Freedom Team Salute exists to:
- Recognize the essential bond between Soldiers, Veterans, Family, and Community
- Celebrate the sacrifices made by all those who support our Soldiers
- Honor the millions of Soldier Veterans who have served and remain as our living connection to generations of duty, honor and patriotism.
- Build and maintain a strong Army Alumni to strengthen the Army and support our Soldiers as we fight the Global War on Terror.
As of Mar. 31, 2008, the program has been expanded to include recognition of those Army Supporters who significantly contribute to supporting Soldiers and the U.S. Army’s Mission, to include Department of Army civilians, Soldiers’ children, Veterans’ spouses, recruiting enablers, Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders and supporters, and government and civilian leaders.
The Freedom Team Salute Commendation consists of a certificate of appreciation and a personalized letter from the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff thanking each commendation recipient for their support to today’s Army. The package includes an official U.S. Army lapel pin and two Army decals, and is provided at no cost to either the individual recognizing the recipient or the recipient. The program manages a robust Freedom Team Salute Volunteer Ambassador program that provides volunteers with outreach tools to increase visibility of FTS within their local, regional and state organizations and communities.
What has the Army done?
Freedom Team Salute is setting a new standard and methodology for U.S. Army outreach. Representatives from the program have participated in hundreds of on-site conferences and events. A team of over 500 Volunteer Ambassadors represents the program in all 50 states and in eight foreign countries. They have developed mutually beneficial relationships with various Veterans Service Organizations and Military Support Organizations, yielding a substantial return on investment and providing those organizations relevancy and a connection to the Army Family.
As of Jun. 18, 2008, a total of 1,313,282 commendations have been received by members of the Army Family. This is comprised of 1,063,229 Veteran commendations; 162,430 parent commendations; 70,317 spouse commendations; 17,275 employer commendations; and 31 Army Supporter commendations. More than 220,000 of these commendations are the result of a close partnership between FTS and the American Legion, in which National and Departmental Legion Commanders have been provided the opportunity to recognize their membership through co-branded commendations from the Army and the American Legion.
Over the past three years, publication of the program’s newsletter The Salute ensures contact is maintained with those who have previously received FTS commendations. The Salute currently has a circulation of over 1,000,000 and provides insightful stories and information on military history, the Army and FTS activities and events.
Positive visibility of the Army through the media has been historically difficult to achieve; however, through the personal stories and goodwill that Freedom Team Salute fosters, the program continues to receive national, regional and local coverage on a regular basis. The program’s recent partnership with the American Veterans Center as part of Memorial Day 2008 national activities resulted in one-on-one interviews with Mr. Mickey Rooney, Mr. Joe Montegna, Mr. Gary Sinise and Miss America, Kirsten Haglund. Coverage in media outlets for this activity alone reached a market equivalency of nearly $100,000; this equivalency multiplied across the many successful FTS partnerships and activities yields approximately $750,000 in media market equivalency per year.
Freedom Team Salute partnered with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation in 2008 to sponsor the U.S. Army Soldier Show during its 50-show tour to Army installations across the United States and overseas. This sponsorship places FTS squarely within the Army Culture…taking the program to its constituents and to the people with whom it means the most.
What continucontinued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
FTS program strategy will continue to develop to reflect program capabilities and to ensure the outreach program continues to set the standard for Army Outreach. Throughout FY08, the FTS program socialized and institutionalized essential partnerships with key stakeholders within the Soldier’s Army environment; the Veteran’s community; and America’s Centers of Influence (COIs). FY09 program outreach will be reflective of and targeted to the composition and demographics of Today’s Army – both the diversity and socio-cultural composition of current Soldiers and the rapidly-changing demographic of Army Veterans.
Freedom Team Salute FY09 Approach Methodology:
- Identify Essential Partnerships across Centers of Influence
- Strategically Engage against Measurable Objectives
- Instill a Call to Action based on Mutually Beneficial Interests
- Implement Sustainable Campaigns for Army, Local, State and National Awareness
- Evaluate Success of Partnership through Ongoing Performance Metric Analysis
Freedom Team Salute’s partnership with the American Legion reflects a goal of recognizing approximately one million Army veterans in that organization alone; planning is under way to expand this outreach to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and the United Service Organization. The program will continue to increase its successful outreach within minority Veteran groups and to parts of the United States currently under-represented by the FTS program. Increasing outreach of the program to the Army Active Component, National Guard and Reserves will result in the expansion of the FTS Soldier Ambassador Program (currently hosting 49 volunteers) and further integration of FTS into the Army Family Covenant, Family Readiness Groups and other Army programs that support Soldiers’ families.
Why is this important to the Army?
Sacrifice, Honor, Duty, Commitment. Every Soldier who has served in the U.S. Army knows the true meaning of these words. Freedom Team Salute ensures that these words will never be empty words spoken to our Soldiers and Veterans. Freedom Team Salute serves as the centerpiece of the essential and enduring bond between our U.S. Army and every American who lives with an appreciation for the price of Freedom.
Web site: http://www.freedomteamsalute.com