Covenant Delivers Services, Programs to Grafenwoehr
June 18, 2008
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - The Army Family Covenant, signed by U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr senior leaders in November, has made good on a promise to deliver family services and programs, all supported by some of the $1.4 billion allotted Army-wide this year.
Overall, the Covenant addresses Soldier and family readiness.
And a large portion of Soldier readiness comes from the family, according to Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who said Soldiers may be the strength of our nation, but their strength comes from their families.
Brig. Gen. David Hogg, commander of the Joint Multinational Training Command here, said the need for Covenant resources is to decrease the immense strain on Army Families.
"It is clear to us that families were the most stretched," Hogg said at the 2007 signing, "and as a result, the most stressed part of our force."
A major organization that helps Army Families - the Army Community Service - opened a new Soldier and Family Assistance Center June 12 in Vilseck. Funding for the SFAC coordinator and assistants, guidance counselor, and human resources specialist - five positions total - came from the Army Family Covenant. The center, a service crucial to the Warrior Transition Unit, has seen $226,000 in funding from Covenant money.
According to Caroline Mills, ACS director, SFAC was one ACS program that certainly needed the funding as the center did not exist prior to the Covenant.
"The Army Family Covenant has heightened public awareness of the value and importance of families," she said. "Services (at ACS in general) will be available quicker; additional staff adds more responsiveness. Some services (are) also available with more frequency."
The additional staffing Mills referred to comes in the form of Exceptional Family Member Program employees, two deployment specialists and two new employees to work the lending closet for the Grafenwoehr and Vilseck ACS locations.
ACS has spent $298,000 so far in Covenant funds, and is currently working a project to build a new state-of-the-art $7.2 million facility in Vilseck.
Child and Youth Services, another Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program, has also received major improvements from the Covenant. With additional funding, CYS is now able to provide $20,000-worth of free or reduced rate child care monthly at USAG Grafenwoehr. This care comes from free registration for families with a deployed sponsor; free hourly care for memorial services; free hourly care for mandatory deployment meetings and mandatory Family Readiness Group meetings; and respite care for families with a deployed sponsor.
Expansions within existing CYS programs include extending weekday hours until 8 p.m., and Saturday hours until 10 p.m.; $8,000 spent on upgrading Youth Sports equipment; $25,000 in transportation for YS events; and upgraded homework, computer, and mini-tech labs. Upgrading alone within CYS to meet increased demands on services has arrived via $83,000 in Covenant funds.
The Army Family Covenant also provides for increased quality of life for Soldiers as well, and USAG Grafenwoehr has planned some significant changes on that front. The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program has received additional funding to reduce costs for participating in activities such as bowling nights and adventure trips. BOSS will also be involved in hosting upcoming entertainment nights.
MWR has used some Covenant dollars to arrange more family entertainment at the garrison. The two most recent examples are the 2008 Soldier Show and the Lt. Dan Band, which is coming July 6. And other Armed Forces Entertainment programs are in the works
Besides the shows, MWR Army Family Covenant money has increased availability of arts and crafts programs and has given Grafenwoehr and Vilseck libraries funds to purchase reference material for deployment, reunion and reintegration purposes.
And while it looks as if USAG Grafenwoehr has spent a lot of money so far on the quality of life here, many programs are still in the works - and will require additional funding. Hogg touched on that subject during the 2007 signing ceremony by saying: "We will continue to fight for more resources (in) the coming years."