Local leaders renew commitment to Families
December 6, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 6, 2012) -- Local leadership re-signed the Army Family Covenant Nov. 30 at the Worthwhile Information Needing Distribution meeting at the Landing to show its continuing commitment to taking care of Families.
The covenant, which is signed every time there is a change of the commanding general and the garrison command, is important for the Army, its Soldiers and their Families, according to Tom Jenkins, Army Community Service information referral program manager.
"Both Soldiers and the Families are being recognized for their sacrifice and all of their hard work through these means (the means provided by the covenant). A full and happy life makes a better Soldier and improves Family readiness. It sends the message that what they put out they are also receiving at the same time," he said.
The covenant, according to Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, Fort Rucker and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general, is a contract that the Army signs with the community that says it is going to do its very best to take care of Soldiers and their Families.
"It does a couple of things. It standardizes funding for existing Family programs, it seeks to improve youth services, housing and healthcare, and helps with spouse employment and education," he said.
The Army Family Covenant reads:
"We recognize the commitment and increasing sacrifices that our Families are making every day. The strength of our Soldiers comes from the strength of their Families. We are committed to providing Soldiers and Families a quality of life that is commensurate with their service, providing our Families a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive, building a partnership with Army Families that enhances their strength and resilience. We are committed to improving Family readiness by standardizing and funding existing Family programs and services, increasing the accessibly and quality of health care, improving Soldier and Family housing, ensuring excellence in schools, youth services and child care, and expanding education and employment opportunities for Family members."
The covenant is responsible for several projects on post, according to officials at the meeting.
"It covers things like child, youth and school services, but it is very far-reaching. A lot of what is being built or renovated on post is based on what the covenant is allowing us to do; the renovation of Lyster Army Health Clinic and the Brown Dental Clinic or even the renovations of the physical fitness facility on Andrews," said Jenkins.
One of the covenant's direct impacts on Fort Rucker was the ability to build a new state-of-the-art teen youth center, which opened Nov. 30.
"The Army Family Covenant is such a great thing, it allowed for the youth center to be built and it is such a success," said Pam Williams, Fort Rucker Child, Youth and School Services coordinator.
The other direct result of the funds that became available with the Army Family Covenant is the child development center that will soon break ground.
"This is a concrete example of how the Army Family Covenant supports our Families. We are proud to be opening this new youth center. The facility fulfills a community need and opens a whole new world of opportunity for the youth of Fort Rucker," said Mangum.
Though the Army budget situation is unclear, Mangum recognizes the importance of Family programs.
"Last year the Army spent $1.4 billion dollars on Family programs. Some of that money was spent here building our new teen youth center. We anticipate that we will spend about the same this year.
"There may be some consolidation of some programs, because some programs and services are redundant. But the Army is committed to care for its Soldiers and Families. I am proud to do that here and to continue the commitment to improving the quality of life of everyone here on Fort Rucker. We will do everything that we possibly can to make this a great place to work, live and raise a Family," he said.
The covenant goes by a matrix for each program and officials decide where funds or consolidation are needed most, Jenkins said.
"When new direction came in October, several things changed concerning budgeting," he said.
One of the changes from the old matrix to the new one is the elimination of the Family readiness group free child care.
"Before when an FRG met, the covenant provided funds to cover child care for the FRG meeting. That has gone away as of October. There is still child care, but the parents are responsible for the fees."
Those who signed the covenant included Mangum; Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander; Sgt. Maj. Buford E. Noland, Fort Rucker garrison command sergeant major; and Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Thomson Jr., Aviation Branch command sergeant major.