`Virtual Installation' becomes reality in Pittsburgh
September 20, 2010
PITTSBURGH (Sept. 18, 2010) - The residents of Pittsburgh received a special honor Saturday as their city became the official home of the nation's third Army Strong Community Center.
About 300 Soldiers, Family members, and civic and business leaders descended on the McGarity United States Army Reserve Center in Coraopolis, Pa., for a standing-room-only ceremony.
Guest speakers included Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of the Army Reserve Command, along with his wife, Laura Stultz; U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy, 18th District of Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl; and U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador Fred J. Fair.
Distinguished guests included Maj. Gen. William Monk III, commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command; Maj. Gen. Luis Viscot, commanding general of the 377th U.S. Army Theater Sustainment Command; Brig. Gen. Leslie Purser, deputy chief, Army Reserve for Human Capital; Brig. Gen. Peter Lennon, commanding general of the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command; retired Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, representing the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs; and Mr. Nick Kraweck from the Pennsylvania Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Master of ceremonies for the event was Pittsburgh's own Mr. Rocky Bleier, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War and later won four championship rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Army Strong Community Center serves as a "virtual installation" designed to support military servicemembers, their Families and veterans by assisting those who are holding down the home front, far from the nearest military installation, when their loved ones deploy.
The idea of the Army Reserve Virtual Installation was developed by Mrs. Stultz. Not being new to having a deployed spouse, Stultz said she has seen first-hand what services military families can receive on military installations and she wanted to bring that same service and support to military families that do not live by a military installation.
"Most of our families want to talk to someone," Mrs. Stultz said, adding that face-to-face contact can be crucial.
Understanding the importance of programs that help servicemembers, Murphy also serves as a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps, working with wounded warriors who suffer from traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.
"It is so important to have this program to help 'wrap the arms' around the Citizen-Soldiers and their families to provide the help they need," said Murphy.
Lt. Gen. Stultz expanded on the importance of the center and the benefits it gives to all servicemembers, especially if they are dispersed. For example, the nearest active-component installation is a four-hour drive away from Pittsburgh.
"Fifteen percent of western Pennsylvania residents are veterans, including 33,000 residents of Pittsburgh," added Ravenstahl.
The ASCC support is provided by trained, qualified and skilled staff available on a 24/7 basis and delivered with both personal touch and technology. There are currently two other Army Strong Community Centers -- in Rochester, N.Y., and Bevard, S.C. -- and there are plans for more centers around the country.
"We cannot do enough to give back, to support our Soldiers and Families. Our men and women in uniform are a national treasure," Lt. Gen. Stultz said. "The least we can do is to bring the support to them."