Virtual Installation ribbon-cutting
Michele L. Zelaya, community support leader (left); Laura Stultz (center left); Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, commander of the U.S. Army Reserve(right center); and Marianne W. Sernoffsky, community support leader, prepare to cut the ribbon signifying the grand opening of the first Amy Strong Community Center at Wadsworth United States Army Reserve Center, 98th Division headquarters, Rochester, N.Y. The Army center connects geographically dispersed families with support resources.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Army News Service, Sept. 15, 2009) - The U.S. Army Reserve's top officer and his wife joined Rochester civic and business leaders Saturday for an official opening of the nation's first Army Strong Community Center or "virtual installation."

The center was designed to support Soldiers and their families by assisting those who are holding down the home front, far from the nearest military installation, when their loved ones deploy.

The Army Reserve plans to open three to five additional such centers in the next year, officials said, as part of their Virtual Installation Community-Based Pilot Program.

"Every community needs to be a virtual installation. I want every military family living in small-town America to have the same support as if they were living on a military installation," said Laura Stultz, wife of Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command.

The Army Strong Community Center was based on Laura Stultz's concept of a virtual installation.

"Since Laura and I stepped off the plane in Rochester, we've experienced an outpouring of support for our Soldiers and their families," said Lt. Gen. Stultz. "We are here today to sign a covenant with the Rochester community and to affirm the Army's commitment to building partnerships that support the strength, resilience, and readiness of Soldiers and their families."

Rochester was selected as a pilot for the VI program because of the significant number of Army Reserve Soldiers and their families who live in the area, the community's history of support for military members and their families, and its distance from the nearest military installation, officials said.

More than 800 Army Reserve Soldiers live within 50 miles of Rochester, which is located more than 120 miles from Fort Drum, N.Y.

Sylvia Caffie, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Caffie, U.S. Army Reserve command sergeant major, also spoke at the event.

The Rochester center has actually been opened since Dec. 2 as a pilot under the Army ReserveAca,!a,,cs Virtual Installation program. During its first six months in operation, the centerAca,!a,,cs two full-time employees served more than 500 military families.

The center is designed to enhance readiness, retention and quality of life by providing service members, their families, retirees and veterans of all branches and military components with information, resources and referrals.

Page last updated Tue September 15th, 2009 at 16:41