WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 9, 2008) -- During the Fourth of July celebration in Newport News, city officials and leaders from Fort Eustis, Va., took a moment to reflect on the relationship between the community and post by signing the Army Community Covenant.

"Newport News and Fort Eustis have a long history of a positive relationship that over the years continues to grow," said Newport News Mayor Joe Frank during the evening ceremony there.

The Fort Eustis community is one of two to sign the covenant on the nation's birthday. Community and Army leaders in Hawaii also signed the covenant that day.

"For the past 100 years, the Hawaiian community has provided tremendous support to Army Soldiers and their families," said Col. Matthew Margotta, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii commander, who participated in the signing there. "We see this support every day amongst civic and business leaders, educators, citizen groups, employers and individual members of the Hawaii Ohana."

On July 5, Army and civic leaders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, north of Guam, signed the covenant. Those at Fort McCoy, Wis., signed July 2, and those at Fort Bliss, Texas, signed July 9. Similar signings are scheduled for communities at Fort Stewart, Ga. and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., July 11 and 12.

The Army is working to sign community covenants in all communities where it has a presence. The covenant is designed to foster effective state and community partnerships with the Army in improving quality of life for Soldiers and their families.

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard Cody was present at the signing at Redstone. There, he thanked the local community for its support.

"Your support is critical to keeping the Army strong, fully mission capable and with an edge against the enemy," he said. "It lets Soldiers know America cares about them."

The Army began signing Community Covenants in April, and has since been sealing agreements of mutual support throughout the nation.

The first formal signing was at Fort Benning, Ga., April 17. The installation was chosen to launch the program because the tri-community area has served as an example of long-standing relationships and history shared between the installation and local communities, officials said.

Secretary of the Army Pete Geren addressed the audience at that first ceremony, telling attendees how important their support is.

"Nearly two-thirds of the Soldiers based at Fort Benning live in the community, and the community embraces them and works with them through hard times," the secretary said. "Programs like 'God Bless Fort Benning' and 'Home for Heroes' and other initiatives touch Soldiers and their Families. It's a blessing in their lives."

Other communities to enter in to the Community Covenant include Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr; Fort Polk, La.; St. Paul, Minn.; Forts Richardson and Wainwright, Ark.; Presidio, Calif.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Fort Gordon, Ga.

Community Covenant signings will continue across the nation through the end of the year.