Community leaders learn how Army takes care of families
January 5, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 5, 2013) -- Army garrison leaders from multiple installations reached out to dozens of educators, business executives and community leaders from across the country during U.S. Army All-American Bowl week activities to show how the Army creates a home for Soldiers and their families.
Hosted by Maj. Gen. John Uberti, Installation Management Command deputy commanding general for support, and Maj. Gen. David Mann, U.S. Army Recruiting Command commanding general, the interaction took place in real time, Jan. 3, with garrison leaders and families via video teleconferencing.
Army installations are communities that support and provide Soldiers and their families with a quality of life commensurate with the quality of their service. Members of the military community in Vicenza, Italy, spoke about their sponsorship program for new comers. They also shared their experience on learning Italian in response to a community leader's question about the language barrier.
Ben Minnifield, an education officer from Jackson, Miss., raised questions about the Army's relationship with academic institutions, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, focus areas.
Col. Matthew Elledge, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hood commander, highlighted the partnerships Fort Hood has with Texas A&M University and Central Texas College.
Uberti added how Army installations are building STEM programs in partnership with local institutions focused at fifth graders.
"That's the age when we start to lose youngsters in the STEM arena. So we are really trying to leverage the partnerships wherever we can where our installations are close to universities," said Uberti.
The emotional health of youth was also queried in the context of frequent deployment of parents. Peter Caspari, Florida Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, asked how the Army is addressing the impact of youth whose father or mother may be deployed.
The USAREC commanding general explained how the Army has committed many resources to developing programs to help children have as much of a normal upbringing as possible.
"This has been a key focus area for the Army over the last 10 years to make sure we have the necessary resources," Mann said.
Several community leaders asked questions about how they could connect the Army to their local communities. For some, the presentation and ensuing discussion was new material.
The testimony of a Fort Drum family receiving care through the Exceptional Family Member Program demonstrated the Army treasures its family members, said Richard VonAncken, a high school principal in Rio Rancho, N.M.
"In order for a Soldier to be successful he has to feel comfortable that his family is being attended to," VonAncken said. "That [VTC] session allowed you to see that the Army has a lot of foresight in preparing for [various] situations."
Even Minnifield, who considered himself familiar with the Army, was impressed by how much the Army builds around the family.
"What I'm most pleased with is that there's a supportive network that allows for any Soldier to achieve the level of success that he or she desires," Minnifield said. "So many of our young people have wonderful dreams but don't know how to connect the dots. The Army gives them the platform to connect the dots."
The IMCOM deputy commanding general thanked the community leaders for taking the time to visit the installation and learn how the Army applies mission readiness to all facets of family life.
"It is your Army," Uberti said to the community leaders. "Help us find ways for you to connect the Army to America and keep it strong."