Army Family Covenant takes spotlight
March 29, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Army senior leaders recommitted themselves to the promises they first made more than two years ago in improving quality of life services to Soldiers and their family members, with the re-signing of the Army Family Covenant, here, at the Nehelani Banquet and Conference Center, March 18.
In front of 100-plus onlookers, Maj. Gen. Michael Terry, commanding general, U.S. Army-Hawaii, led a group of commanders as they placed their John Hancocks on the AFC document immediately following the close of the 2010 Army Family Action Plan Conference.
Also participating in the re-signing ceremony were Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii; Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Williamson, command sergeant major, USAG-HI; and Command Sgt. Maj. George Duncan, command sergeant major, USARHAW.
Calling it "time for a re-signing," Margotta said that combining the ceremony with the close of the AFAP conference was the perfect opportunity for Army leadership to demonstrate their commitment to continue creating an environment in which Soldiers and their families can thrive.
"Most of you know what that covenant is," Margotta said. "It's a symbolic gesture of all Army leaders of our solemn pledge to do everything we can to give you a quality of life commensurate to the service that you provide our nation."
Following the showing of the Army Strong video to, as Margotta put it, "get everyone in the mood" for the re-signing ceremony, Terry addressed audience members.
He paid tribute to those who serve, particularly those who do so downrange, adding that the Army prides itself in caring for those whose personal and familial sacrifices lend security to their country.
"What we owe to our families, we could never, ever repay," said Terry, "but we're trying to do our best ... thus, the Army Family Covenant."
Introduced in the fall of 2007, the AFC promise provides active, Guard and Reserve service members, and their loved ones, with uniform family programs proportionate to their service and sacrifice.
The agreement was signed in Hawaii, Nov. 1, 2007, with now-retired Gen. Richard Cody, then the 31st vice chief of staff of the Army, and Margotta, among the senior leaders present at the ceremony.
Around the world, the AFC provides Soldiers and families with hundreds of programs, including those committed to health care, family housing, education and recreation issues.
Locally, 14 of the original 15 AFC initiatives are still in operation. The one initiative not in operation is the discontinuance of issuing free towels at all gymnasiums.
Current initiatives include free fitness classes; free registration and re-registration at Child, Youth and School Services; free pet care for spouses of deployed Soldiers; and extended hours at Sgt. Yano Library, here, and the Information, Ticketing and Reservation office.
In addition, new initiatives like the implementation of a shuttle service for children living in geographically dispersed areas, demonstrate the garrison's willingness to keep military members of all ages involved in Army programs.
Given the sheer number of AFC programs offered, Terry indicated the Army would forever remain committed to its core unit - or that which the Hawaiians fondly refer to as "ohana."
"We are a family-oriented organization," Terry said. "There's no doubt about it."