Monroe leaders re-affirm commitment to top-quality service, support programs
March 6, 2009
- "Army Strong and Family Strong cannot be separated if we are to know true success."
- "We have to win the current fight and we have to take care of our families and preserve the all-volunteer force."
FORT MONROE, Va. - The new Commanding General of U.S. Army TRADOC and the Fort Monroe Garrison Commander were among the participants in a Feb. 23 Army Family Covenant re-signing ceremony at the installation's Casemate Museum.
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Col. Anthony D. Reyes added their signatures to the local version of the covenant and became the latest Fort Monroe leaders to pledge their commitment to improving and maintaining community service and support programs that benefit the nation's Army Families. The covenant promises Soldiers and their loved ones a quality of life that is commensurate with their valued service
TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Bruner and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Leroy A. James also signed the document and re-affirmed their pledge to promote top-quality community support programs. About 20 Army Families who reside at Fort Monroe and within the surrounding community witnessed the signing ceremony.
The original Army Family Covenant was introduced in 2007. Secretary of the Army Pete Geren spearheaded the effort and emphasized its importance by personally attending covenant-signing celebrations service-wide, to include the initial Fort Monroe event in November of that year.
Both the SecArmy and Chief of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., continue to sing the covenant's praises, and the added emphasis appears to be making a difference. In late January, Mr. Geren announced a $70 million increase in funding for family programs in FY2010. Additionally, the Army News Web site - www.army.mil/news - is packed with positive, covenant-related stories about reduced cost or free child care, new construction of family support facilities, improvements to military housing, and much more.
"There have been some major initiatives that came from legislation (and) some came from policy, but what I think will really make the Army work for Army Families and what will really make the family covenant program meaningful on a grassroots level are all the little tweaks; the little changes here and there that just show our leadership is responding and listening," Mr. Geren said recently.
The Monroe re-signing ceremony is just one example of that "grassroots" approach, noted the garrison commander in his remarks at the Feb. 23 event. It acknowledges the fact that family support programs must constantly evolve and adapt to meet current requirements - a "forever moving target" in the colonel's words - and leaders who regularly renew their commitment to the covenant are acknowledging the importance of addressing those ever-dynamic needs.
"What draws us here today is a re-affirmation of the covenant; a recommitment by your senior leaders to keep that safety net strong and, in fact, to widen it beneath you and your loved ones," the colonel said. "Army Strong and Family Strong cannot be separated if we are to know true success."
During his brief remarks, Gen. Dempsey pointed out the symbolism of the ceremony's location. Built in the 1800's, the Casemate's "hallowed walls" represent the Army's long legacy of protecting the nation and the Soldiers and families that join its forces, he noted.
"I am honored to be part of this ceremony," the general said. "Deanie and I, as well as the other senior leaders and their spouses of the Fort Monroe Community, understand that we have two things to accomplish - we have to win the current fight and we have to take care of our families and preserve the all-volunteer force. It's our great commitment that we will do that."
After the new covenant was signed, each participating family was presented an 8-by-10-inch copy of the document by Gen. Dempsey. The covenant reads as follows:
We recognize the commitment and increasing sacrifices that our families are making every day.
We recognize the strength of our Soldiers comes from the strength of their Families.
We are committed to providing Soldiers and Families a Quality of Life that is commensurate with their service.
We are committed to providing our Families a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive.
We are committed to building a partnership with Army Families that enhances their strength and resilience.
We are committed to improving Family readiness by:
Aca,!Ac Standardizing and funding existing Family programs and services.
Aca,!Ac Increasing accessibility and quality of healthcare.
Aca,!Ac Improving Soldier and Family housing.
Aca,!Ac Ensuring excellence in schools, youth services, and child care.
Aca,!Ac Expanding education and employment opportunities for Family members.
Some of the covenant-related achievements at Fort Monroe thus far include: the elimination of CYSS membership fees; the allotment of four free instructional classes per child for the families of all deploying/deployed, wounded or fallen Soldiers (and two classes for all other authorized users); and a 20 percent reduction in fees at School Age Services and the Child Development Center for qualified families, among other benefits.
Furthermore, Army Community Services continues to place additional emphasis on its family outreach, education and job assistance programs. Information about those efforts is featured regularly in the post newspaper.