Defender 6
Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander, Installation Management Command.

In America, the Secretary of the Army created the Army Community Covenant in 2008 to build mutual relationships and strengthen bonds between Soldiers, Families and American communities. The ACC has been a valuable tool in fostering and sustaining effective state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families on home front U.S.A.

The ACC accomplishes two things by recognizing the selfless service and contributions of community volunteers, and also shows Soldiers the compassion and support of the American public.

Though the Army Community Covenant is not a formal program at European garrisons, Europe has long carried the torch as a pillar of support for the U.S. Army, ever since we helped liberate it from the bonds of tyranny during World War II and the bonds of oppression during the Cold War.

I fully understand that Europe's positive impact on the strength of the Army Family overseas is a jewel in our Nation's crown.

Much the same as the ACC in the states, Soldiers and Families who call Europe their home away from home enjoy fabulous friendship and selfless support from community leaders, business owners and average citizens in numerous German, Italian, Belgian and Dutch communities who empathize with the sacrifices of forward-stationed Soldiers and Families, and speak volumes through their deeds of support to them.

In my travels, I hear countless stories of the extent to which our European community partners strive to support our Soldiers and families before, during and after the many deployments, without the expectation of reward. These partnerships strengthen ties between our Soldiers and host nation hosts, and the bond of fellowship this develops certainly builds added resilience in our Families as they deal with numerous hardships.

The generosity of Europe's neighborhoods, towns, cities, and counties is astounding. Just as in America, every day communities surrounding our European Army garrisons devise new ways, both small and large, to demonstrate their appreciation for Soldiers and Families. Here are a few initiatives that give you an idea of the scope of this support:

- Adults, children, and organizations support Family Readiness Groups in supporting efforts to support deployed Soldiers from the local area.

- Reduced-fee or gratis incentives provided by cities to families and Soldiers to attend host nation community, cultural and tourism events that enhance cultural understanding.

- Host Nation Visitation Tours for Soldiers and Families to German political centers to enhance understanding of host nation socio/political workings.

- Host Nation volunteers from the KONTAKT program at Germany garrisons, who donate thousands of hours annually to support events at garrisons that enhance the experience for Soldiers and Families.

- School exchanges/partnerships that encourage cross-cultural awareness, understanding and appreciation, and develop bonds of friendship

- The reliance of Army communities on critical life and safety support provided by host nation law enforcement, medical and fire first responders that safeguard our communities and, when called upon, selflessly risk their lives for our Soldiers and Families.

- Garrison sports exchange programs and competitions that develop comradeship between sports organizations and enhance cultural understanding.

- Access to host nation medical care facilities for Army families that ensures the health concerns and priorities of Soldiers and their Families are effectively addressed in a timely manner.

These examples of support on part of European nations are great examples of how foreign citizens and organizations directly enrich the lives of our Soldiers and Families and strengthen our resiliency.

When you eventually return to the U.S., the Community Covenant will pick up where your gracious European hosts left off, and I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the program at http://www.army.mil/community, where you can see the best practices of Soldiers, Family members, leaders, and community organizations in the states. Perhaps you will even discover something you can adapt to your European community, or see an opportunity to let me know about something that has worked for you overseas that we can use here in the U.S.

Relationships are everything, and I encourage you to take every opportunity to thank the members of your host nation community for their sincere and active caring for Soldiers and their Families in Europe. The Army is eternally grateful and thankful for their support.

Army Strong
Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Defender 6

Page last updated Tue March 2nd, 2010 at 04:49