FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The holidays are a time for festive celebrations with friends and families to give thanks and reflect on the many blessings that have touched each of our lives this year.

We are fortunate to be a part of a Army Family stationed in Hawaii enjoying the many opportunities to shop at our Army Air Force Exchanges Services (AAFES) facilities, participate in holiday parties, partake in holiday dining and fabulous desserts at our outstanding restaurants, and after the holiday celebrations, head for our fitness centers to work off the extra pounds.

The holidays are also a time for some families with loved ones in training or deployed. For these single moms and dads pulling double duty while their Soldier is training or fighting, we hold a special place for you in the Army family. As we plan our holiday activities, let us remember these families and their loved ones on deployment. Be aware of those families, and lend a helping hand. Adopt the motto, "neighbors helping neighbors" and share shopping excursions, tree lighting activities, holiday meals and other family outings.

For the many single Soldiers who may be away from home and loved ones for the first time, the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program organizes and conducts activities and outdoor recreation for single Soldiers under the leadership of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR). For details, call 808-655-1130.

Or, become a volunteer with the Soldier Volunteer program performing on-post or off-post agency work and receive immediate gratification for your contributions. Additional information on these volunteer programs is available by calling 808-655-4227.

For spiritual support, call 808-656-3272 to speak with a caring chaplain.

Engaged leadership is key to preventing accidents, and I believe most accidents are predictable and preventable when engaged leaders, coach, and mentor their Soldiers. In turn, these Soldiers apply these to family members.

Each one of us holds ultimate responsibility for our personal safety. We all must demonstrate self-discipline in all that we do during the holidays.

While celebrating with loved ones during this season of hope and joy, let's not forget that we are a nation at war and not tarnish the celebration with complacency. By staying vigilant and reducing risks in our activities, we will remain accident free during these holidays.

Thank you for all that you do every day for the Soldier and families. I wish each of you and your family a very safe and enjoyable holiday season. Happy Holidays!

<i>(Editor's Note: Lt. Col. Richard Gledhill is the command of U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu.)</i>

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16