COL Christopher M. Benson
Col. Christopher M. Benson, USAG Ansbach and Franconia Military Community commander, reminds the FMC of the importance of Labor Day and of the importance of staying safe over the long weekend.

ANSBACH, Germany (Aug. 29, 2013) -- Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a day set aside to recognize the contributions of America's workforce to the growth, success and security of America. Throughout history the American workers' sacrifice, hard work, entrepreneurship, and social and civic contributions have defined America and continue to define and strengthen our Nation.

For Army units overseas Labor Day takes on special meaning, as the Army workforce is composed of U.S. and host nation personnel who work diligently to support the Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, and Family members in the Franconia Military Community (FMC). Whether it is while working in a front door operation, in the dining halls or fitness centers, maintaining infrastructure, or stocking shelves in a warehouse, our civilian personnel serve with distinction. As I look across the FMC I see our civilian partners actively engaged in the Army's mission. I hear firsthand reports of the outstanding service many of you are providing to the men and women in uniform. To members of our civilian workforce, both U.S. and host nation, I sincerely say thank you for the support and your commitment to excellence.

For most Americans, Labor Day also signals the end of the summer. Our children are back in school or heading there, and the majority of summer vacation attractions are starting to wind down their hours of operation or close. Many families try to wrap up the summer with a final vacation, picnic or barbecue with friends. Whatever your plans are for Labor Day, please don't let an accident spoil your fun. Plan your activity, identify your risk and mitigate the hazards to ensure the summer season ends on a good note with fond memories to last a lifetime.

To this end, leaders are expected to conduct a safety briefing to remind their personnel, Soldiers and civilians how important they are to our mission before they depart for the holiday. Leaders must emphasize risk management as well as proper planning and personal protective equipment (e.g., seat belts, helmets, goggles), which can prevent loss of life or serious injury. I want you to specifically address that combining alcohol with water-related activities, vehicle operation and high-risk recreational activities can have deadly consequences for everyone involved.

Leaders, if members of your team have holiday plans that include travel, make sure they have a plan to arrive to and return safely from their destination. While I encourage everyone to use TRiPS (Travel Risk planning System (https://safety.army.mil/)) to help with travel plans, it is mandatory for Soldiers. Also, ensure they leave a copy of their travel plan and how they can be reached in the event of an emergency. This is not about keeping tabs on our personnel, or a question of trust, but of taking care of our own -- Soldiers and civilians. All of us, regardless of rank, age or position, share the responsibility of keeping our Army Family safe and secure.

To many Europeans, we, Soldiers and U.S. civilians, represent America. Therefore, I ask that you always conduct yourselves properly; we are guests and ambassadors for our Nation and should behave accordingly.

Enjoy your well deserved time off. Stay safe, remain vigilant, and return healthy, rested, and ready.

Page last updated Thu August 29th, 2013 at 00:00