Atlanta ceremony recognizes R&R contributors
February 23, 2011
ATLANTA, Feb. 21, 2011 -- During a ceremony at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Feb. 17, military officials recognized several organizations that support the Rest and Recuperation leave program.
"Anytime you have an opportunity to reward people for taking care of Soldiers - that's a great day - and that's what you have today," said Maj. Gen. Jeffery L. Arnold, assistant deputy chief of staff, G-1, Department of the Army, and director of Human Resources Policy.
Arnold said the state of Georgia is one of the most hospitable places in welcoming Soldiers and their families all year round. Soldiers returning to the states on R&R from Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan either fly into Dallas or Atlanta.
Although the Personnel Assistance Point's mission is to process Soldiers on R&R leave, it also assists servicemembers with other issues from sending new recruits to basic combat training to housing Soldiers whose flights get delayed, Arnold said.
"I want to express my own personal privilege and pride in having the opportunity to come here and thank those who participate," said Arnold. "They do it out of love and affection. That same enthusiasm [and] that same energy - they demonstrate and exhibit day in and day out when those Soldiers come here."
Twenty Soldiers and civilian contractors comprise the Atlanta Personnel Assistance Point. Maj. Mark Brown, the PAP commander, said the R&R leave mission would be virtually impossible to complete without the support of the airport and other different organizations that were recognized during the ceremony.
"[The ceremony] was a really unique event - [an] opportunity to recognize the various entities and the airport that help us out on a daily basis, because we could not accomplish this mission without them," said Brown. "Our number-one goal is to ensure that each Soldier passing through the Atlanta airport receives first class service."
Just last month, the one millionth passenger to take R&R leave was marked with a celebration attended by Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Atlanta's scheduled event to join in the commemoration was cancelled due to inclement weather.
"It doesn't matter that we've hit the one-millionth mark, they're doing this every single day and they deserve recognition," said Lt. Col. Dave Homza, the chief of R&R policy, Human Relations Readiness Division, Army G-1."They go out of their way to help us take care of the Soldier."
Master Sgt. Catherine Umbach, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Personnel Assistance Point operations, said she is honored to be part of the team. Personnel Assistance Point members work beyond regular scheduled hours, especially when flights are delayed, she said. A large part of the coordination to ensure servicemembers arrive to their destination for their R&R is done behind the scenes, said Umbach.
Umbach said although the PAP team was humbled by the recognition, the ceremony did make the Soldiers feel very appreciated.
"A lot of people have no idea the volume of Soldiers that are put through here," said Umbach. "For our Soldiers to have been recognized and made to feel that they are doing a good job, is wonderful."