Community covenant signing
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin signs the Community Covenant during a pre-game ceremony at the Blowfish Military Appreciation Night Saturday. Benjamin was among 13 community leaders who signed the agreement.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- While the Columbia Blowfish baseball team took time to show its appreciation for Fort Jackson’s Soldiers, community members and post leaders took time to renew their commitment to work together.

During a pre-game ceremony, members of the local community again signed a covenant conveying the community’s continued support for the armed forces, Soldiers and their families. The original covenant was signed in 2008.

“The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce wanted to re-sign the covenant as a symbol of their commitment to Fort Jackson,” said Col. Craig Currey, Fort Jackson’s deputy commanding officer. “The Blowfish game was an event they sponsored for our Soldiers and families to attend for free as a sign of their appreciation.”

While there are other covenants aimed at showing the Army’s commitment to Soldiers and families, the Community Covenant is unique in that it focuses on the community that surrounds an Army installation, Currey said.

“Unlike the Army Family Covenant, this agreement emphasizes the local community’s desire to help Fort Jackson and care for Soldiers,” he said. “Local business, political leadership, police, health care and community members all play an important role in ensuring that Soldiers and their Families live well in Columbia.

“This covenant was signed by the community for Fort Jackson " it was a way that they, the civilian community, could show us how they would support us.”

Sgt. Maj. Matthew Cloyd, with Fort Jackson’s G-3, said the covenant is a public pronouncing of an important partnership.

“The covenant is important in that it serves as a public acknowledgement of the commitment that civic leaders have given to taking care of our Soldiers,” he said. “While military units are designed to survive on their own during operations, the military family left behind is not, and that is where the community comes into play.

“Military families require special considerations due to being outside of their normal family circle. Most of the time immediate family is miles away and not able to assist when issues come up, that is when the community steps in to help. That is what the covenant does.”
In the three years since the covenant was first signed, community officials opened an Armed Forces Lounge at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, and later lobbied for and achieved having the lounge turned into a USO facility, Cloyd said.

Community officials also implemented an Employment Partnership Initiative, in which the Army Reserve signed a Memorandum of Agreement with 16 local businesses and law enforcement agencies to make it a priority to the recruit, train and hire Reserve Soldiers.
It is support like that, Currey said, that makes the partnership between the post and the surrounding communities successful.

“It is exciting to see that our local community and chamber want to help us succeed,” he said. “They want to be great neighbors and embrace us as a city. Fort Jackson is located in a special place and enjoys the best relations with the community.

“I can’t think of any other installation in the Army where the community relations are as good as they are between Fort Jackson and Columbia.”

Page last updated Thu June 9th, 2011 at 08:03