Grafenwoehr leaders renew commitment
November 12, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - More than 150 Soldiers and family members filled the Grafenwoehr Field House, Oct. 28, to witness as four leaders rededicated themselves to their community by re-signing the Army Family Covenant.
"Our Army is the strength of our nation ... our families are the strength of our Army," said Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar, commanding general, Joint Multinational Training Command. "The Covenant is about a commitment ... to continue to ensure we have a community that is strong."
Salazar said several improvements the Covenant, which was originally signed Oct. 8, 2007, brought to the Grafenwoehr community in the past two years, includie: $70,000 worth of free, reduced and expanded monthly child care services; a 7.5-million euro Child Development / School Age Service Center; and the addition of several positions at Army Community Service.
In addition to Salazar, Command Sgts. Maj. Darieus ZaGara, JMTC, and William Berrios, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, and Col. Nils Sorenson, USAG Grafenwoehr commander, also renewed their commitment to the community.
Sorenson said the Covenant is important because it "binds leaders to the welfare of their community. The Covenant gives us proper resourcing of a host of Soldier and family-based services ... and fences that money so that money is protected from other competing needs."
Addressing members of the community, Sorenson alluded to the rich diversity in the audience, which he called a "kaleidoscope." Elementary school children clad in bright clothes, Soldiers in ACUs, high school athletes with football jerseys, JROTC students in uniform and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars speckled the rows of chairs and bleachers in the field house.
In the front row with his family sat Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman, C Company, 7th Army NCO Academy, who recently was named 2009 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
"(The Army Family Covenant) has given me the ability to focus on my job," Beckman said as he bounced his 4-year-old daughter Hailey in his lap. "I'm not nervous about moving to a new community because I know they'll have those same services set up."
Next to Beckman and his family were several Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit, including Staff Sgt. Larry Quade and Spc. Ian Wade. Both Soldiers are taking college courses full-time.
Quade said he will have finished 50 credit hours toward the core courses for a nursing degree by December. Wade has nearly 35 credits under his belt but is still deciding on a major.
In addition to on-the-job training provided by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers receive unlimited free hourly child car during medical appointments care of the Army Family Covenant.
"Everything we do is for our Soldiers and families," said USAG Grafenwoehr Command Sgt. Maj. William Berrios.
Following the official signing of the Covenant, Salazar and Beckman, with assistance from Beckman's son, Christopher, 7, decisively cut an Army Family Covenant cake, much to the delight of about 50 children who stood ready for their piece.