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Freedom Team Salute (FTS)

What is it?
The U.S. Army FTS Commendation Program was created by the Secretary of the Army (SA) and Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) to honor all Army veterans and to provide Soldiers in both the Active and Reserve Components with the opportunity to formally recognize those who support them. Launched in May 2005, the program honors Army spouses, parents, and employers, Army supporters, and Army veterans for the tremendous value they bring to the Army Family.

The FTS consists of a certificate of appreciation and personalized Thank You letters from the SA and the CSA. The package includes an official 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?
The FTS is setting a new standard and methodology for Army outreach. Throughout 2008, program outreach has reflected improved delivery systems which place the program front and center in Soldier and veteran communities. Strategic partnerships, many of which have been developed since the kickoff in 2005, continue to strengthen the program's relevance, role, and alignment among the issues affecting today's Soldier and veteran communities. As of September 17, 2008, a total of 1,376,090 commendations had been awarded to members of the Army Family. That number includes: 1,100,859 veteran commendations; 177,608 parent commendations; 76,975 spouse commendations; 18,653 employer commendations; and 1,995 Army supporter commendations.

Representatives from the program have participated in hundreds of on-site conferences and events. This is achieved through a core staff and a team of more than 560 volunteer ambassadors who represent the program in all 50 states and in 8 foreign countries.

Significant gains in visibility within Soldier communities have been achieved over the past 6 months through the successful integration of FTS into basic combat training operations, at all 5 Brigade Combat Team installations, and through on-site briefing tours to 8 out of the 10 Army installations with the largest permanent population of Soldiers.

Mutually beneficial relationships with Veterans Service Organizations and Military Support Organizations continue to yield a substantial return on investment for the Army by confirming. an organization's relevancy and by providing a connection to the Army Family. For example, more than 300,000 of the commendations resulted from the close partnership between FTS and the American Legion.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The FTS program strategy will continue to reflect program capabilities and 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 Army, the veteran's community, and America's centers of influence. The FY09 program outreach will be reflective of, and targeted to, the composition and demographics of the Army. Both the diversity and socio-cultural composition of current Soldiers and the rapidly-changing demographic of Army veterans.

Why is this important to the Army?
Every Soldier who has served in the U.S. Army knows the true meaning of the words sacrifice, honor, duty, and commitment. 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.

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