JUNCTION CITY, Kan. - Fort Riley Soldiers and Geary County community members re-affirmed their commitment to support and sustain each other's communities at a covenant signing July 22.

Soldiers with the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, garrison and 1st Inf. Div. senior leadership and Geary County commissioners re-signed the covenant at the Courtyard Marriott in Junction City.

The covenant re-affirms the commitment of the Central Flint Hills Region and Fort Riley, with the community promising to provide quality education and quality and affordable housing; sustain and improve local-based services; and promote employment protection and recognition to all servicemembers and their Families.

The covenant also commits Fort Riley to sustain and improve Family assistance centers, including services to assist wounded warriors; provide financial support to promote all training programs; and provide for Family assistance programs for the Army to plan and execute training for all Families and servicesmembers throughout the deployment cycle.

Crystal Winkler, wife of Pvt. David Winkler, a Soldier with the 101st Forward Support Battalion, 1st HBCT, said it was important for the post and the surrounding community to work together.
The couple, along with their sons, Nicholas and Kevin, took part in the signing.

"Creating a stronger bond between the community and the post will be good for the Families and Soldiers," Crystal said.

Denise Ott, Junction City/Geary County Military Affairs Council director, said the signing of the covenant makes possible the interdependence the community and post share, which makes the region stronger.

The first covenant was signed two years ago, she said, and the Adopt-A-Community program was developed as a result of that signing.

"The Army Community Covenant lays the groundwork and makes possible the synergy that is needed for the productive, interdependence between the community and the post. This interdependence yields benefits that make our region stronger, as we grow together," Ott said.

Before leaving for their rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., each battalion in 1st HBCT signed a covenant with its respective partner community, including Grand View Plaza in Geary County, Ott said.

"Today's signing is an important step forward for Fort Riley and Geary County," she said. "The Families, employers and schools of Geary County and the entire Central Flint Hills Region greatly influence and strengthen the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley."

Ott said 1st HBCT isn't just partnered with community leaders, the unit also is helping shape the leaders of tomorrow.

"The 101st Forward Support Battalion has a long upstanding partnership with Sheridan Elementary School in Junction City," she said.

Maj. Eric Schmidt, 1st HBCT-Rear provisional detachment commander, signed on behalf of 1st HBCT, because most of the units are currently training at NTC.

Schmidt said the bonds, which are already in place, would only grow stronger as the post and community continue to work together.

"It will strengthen the bonds that we already have with the community," he said. "It's a re-affirmation of the pledge that we have made to each other."

Schmidt also said he was "ecstatic" to be a part of such an important signing.

"This really is a re-affirmation to our commitment to you, Geary County, and the local communities," Schmidt said during his speech before the signing. "We stand by our community and we hope you will stand by us, our brigade and our Fort Riley community."

The 101st FSB currently supports one of the schools in Geary County by sending Soldiers into the classroom about five hours a week throughout the school year, Schmidt said.

"They help with tutoring, exercise activities and recreational activities," he said.

1st Sgt. Gerald Palmer, 1st HBCT Rear Detachment's 1st sergeant, who also signed the covenant, said he always encourages Soldiers and Families to take an active role in their community.

"Being new to Junction City myself, throughout the time in the military, we always encourage Soldiers of all ranks to go out and support their communities," he said.

Palmer helped build a house as part of a Habitat for Humanity project with his student officers at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

"We are here to re-strengthen the bond we already have with the community," Palmer said.
Spc. Zack Hagan, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st HBCT, said many Soldiers who move here don't fully take advantage of all the surrounding communities have to offer.

"There's a lot of Soldiers here who don't go out and get to know their community," he said.
Additionally, Hagan said, the covenant signing will help new Soldiers and Families get involved in their surrounding communities.

Pvt. Levi Thaut, also with the 2nd Bn., 34th Armor Regt., 1st HBCT, said helping Soldiers integrate into a new community will help them feel more at home and more willing to participate in events outside of post.

Fort Riley is an intricate part of the community, going all the way back to the 1850s, said Florence Whitebread, Geary County commissioner.

"We have a long history with Fort Riley and we will continue to be partners," she said.

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