We appreciate our local communities
Col. Deborah B. Grays Garrison Commander Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

Commander's Corner
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

"We're in this together. This has got to be a partnership. We can't do it by ourselves."

This quote, by former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Linton Wells II, epitomizes the relationship we at Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem have with our local communities.

With the unique support of our off post partners, we as an Army community are able to succeed on a daily basis.

The Fort Gillem fire last week provided a key example of the incredible support we receive.

When the call went out for assistance, personnel and equipment from the Forest Park, Clayton County and Morrow fire departments rushed to our aid, helping to quickly contain the blaze and minimize the damage it caused.

We have mutual aid agreements with 17 partners, and it's comforting to know those agencies will be here when we need them.

We've had partnership agreements with the cities of East Point and Forest Park for years.

Working together, we've been able to enhance the well being of our military community members through shared programs promoting awareness and involvement, recreational events (from intramural sports programs to fishing rodeos) and more. Local community involvement won't end when the posts close - through Local Redevelopment Authorities, our neighbors are already working to mold the future of our installations, ensuring the property remains a vital part of the local area.

We also have partnerships with many of our local school systems.

Our Community Outreach staff is kept busy working with educators to ensure the success of programs that allow us to have an active role in the educational process that affects so many of the children of our military Families.

By allowing us to participate in school events, such as mentoring programs, after-school events and special occasions (for example, mock court and science fair judging and Principal for a Day events), we can affect the success of not only our own children, but those in our civilian community.

Our involvement with our schools is a true partnership with the future in mind - our servicemembers provide the children with not only traditional educational assistance, but also teach the character and leadership skills that Soldiers live by.

In return, our local school system administrators work closely with our garrison school liaison officer to ensure issues unique to the children of military members are resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The support we receive from our local communities comes not only from our big partners with whom we share written agreements, but also from the individuals and organizations scattered within our neighborhoods. We in the garrison receive telephone calls almost weekly from Girl Scout, Boy Scout and other organizations, as well as individuals, interested in sending care packages to troops overseas.

Our military community is regularly included in local events, from participating in parades to being recognized at luncheons and dinners.We are embraced by our neighbors, who ensure we know they're there for us.

Our USO volunteers welcome troops traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, providing them assistance, comfort and a friendly smile.

Organizations such as the Shepherd Center ensure our wounded warriors get much-needed assistance.

Atlanta veterans remain active in military affairs, stepping up to the plate to put actions behind their words with programs and legislative bills that truly have an impact on the everyday lives of our military Families.

So many organizations support us - many more than can be listed in this column, and each one is greatly appreciated.

Atlanta recreational outlets also keep military members in the forefront for support, offering free and discounted tickets to sporting events, plays, tourist attractions, hotels and so much more.

As a military member, I am acutely aware of the respect and support our local communities feel for our Soldiers. I'm reminded of it every time I step off post.

After all, our neighbors show us their support every day, in so many ways. I'd like to thank the Atlanta community for its great support. The lives of our Soldiers and their Families are made richer through your efforts and commitment.

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