YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. - The signing of the Army Community Covenant at Yakima Training Center became a moving and heartfelt ceremony.

Civic leaders, members of the business community and local family residents met Nov. 12 with senior military representatives to sign the Army Community Covenant at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

"This is really a community-driven event," said Lt. Col. Leo. G. Pullar, YTC garrison commander. "The Yakima Valley residents are very supportive of those of us in uniform, and we are very happy to be a part of this community."

Mary A. Miller, U.S. Army Reserve ambassador for Washington, helped plan and organize the event.

"This is a symbolic signing between the greater Yakima Valley community and the military community as a commitment to continue support for the military and military families," Miller said.

The first Army Community Covenant was signed in Columbus, Ga., and was to be completed in all 50 states between April and December, said Lt. Brian Winters, Yakima Valley Sheriff's Department.

Bob Jones, mayor of Selah, Wash., was the first of four speakers.

When Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980 the National Guard Soldiers did an outstanding job of cleaning up the volcanic ash, he said.

"The relationship we have with the Yakima Training Center has been excellent," Jones said. "Whenever we can, we will do whatever we can to help service members and their families."

Angela Jines, spouse for 15 years of Capt. Jay Jines, Army National Guard, described what it was like when her husband was mobilized for 14 months to Iraq.

"It was one of the hardest times of my life, followed closely by the re-integration of my husband after the mobilization," she said.

Jines said her 13-year-old son, Jordan, acted out, grieving about his father's deployment, and she didn't know how she could have survived it without the tremendous support and understanding she received from his teachers and after-school child care provider.

She also talked about how her neighbor, father and brother-in-law immediately came to her rescue when her washer and hot water tank broke down at the same time.

"What I remember and appreciate most about the last mobilization was the kindness, assistance and support I received from my community, and that kind of support continued when we moved here," Jines said.

The first week the Jines family moved to the Yakima area, she said a neighbor they had not yet met snow plowed their driveway.

"As my family prepares for our second mobilization in March, I am confident that once again our community will provide comfort, support and kindness," Jines said. "I want to thank everyone here today for the support you provide to military members and their families. You truly make a difference to us."

Renee Bunn, spouse for 12 years of Capt. Daniel Bunn, U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment, also thanked everyone for the strong community support to military families.

Bunn said her husband served six months in Afghanistan and 16 months in Iraq.

"Whenever we come to a new place, everything is strange," she said.

To feel comfortable in a new area, military families must quickly find a home, school, hairdresser and auto repair shop that will charge a reasonable fee, she said.

"It really helps when we can ask a good neighbor," Bunn said,

Jack Creighton, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, was the last speaker.

"We're here to sign the Army Community Covenant, a covenant that reflects the bond that exists between this area and the Army and other military services," he said. "My job is to improve the relationship between the civilian community and all those serving in the military."

What impresses him the most about today's military, Creighton said, is the one thing today's service members have in common - they are all volunteers.

"This is the third-longest war in our Nation's history after the Revolutionary War and Vietnam," Creighton said. "It's the longest war we have ever fought with an all-volunteer force, and we are in uncharted waters when it comes to fighting an extended conflict with an all-volunteer force."

That's why it's so important for communities to step up and do what they do, he said.

"Love service members, love their families and embrace them," Creighton said.

Janet Jett sang the National Anthem, and everybody said the Pledge of Allegiance, before Winters called individuals up, one at a time, to sign the Army Community Covenant.


Barbara L. Sellers is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.


What is the Army Community Covenant'
The Army's Community Covenant is designed to develop and foster effective state and community partnerships with the Army in improving the quality of life for Soldiers and their families, both at their current duty stations and as they transfer from state to state.

Commitment
Together, we are committed to building strong communities.
We, the community, recognize:
Aca,!Ac The commitment Soldiers and their families are making every day.
Aca,!Ac The strength of Soldiers comes from the strength of their families.
Aca,!Ac The strength of families is supported by the strength of the community.
Aca,!Ac The strength of the community comes from the support of employers, educators, civic and business leaders, and its citizens.
We, the community are committed to:
Aca,!Ac Building partnerships that support the strength, resilience and readiness of Soldiers and their families, and
Aca,!Ac Assisting in implementation of the Army Family Covenant.

Page last updated Fri November 21st, 2008 at 16:02