WASHINGTON, D.C. Aca,!" Quality of Life Awards were presented during the "Strengthening Soldiers and Families Through Community Partnership" Family Forum Oct. 7 at the 2008 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The awards recognize best practices adopted in support of the Soldier Family Action Plan, the Army Family Covenant and the Army Community Covenant. The awards acknowledge the innovations and best practices achieved from garrisons and units over the past year, and reflect the senior Army leadership's commitment to providing Soldiers and their Families a quality of life commensurate with the quality of their service to the nation.

"The Community Covenant shows there is no substitute for neighbors helping neighbors ... part of the Covenant is taking best practices and spreading them to other installations and showing the community they can help at all levels," Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said. "We are embracing the community, thanking them, and pulling them in the gate to show how their generosity matches the specific needs of the local installation."

Following the awards ceremony, Geren presented a surprise award to retired Army Maj. Gen. Craig Whelden, for his leadership that ensured the success of the Army Community Covenant program across the country. Whelden received a Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award for meritorious performance of duty while serving as the director, Army Community Covenant Task Force, Office of Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, from March 2008 to October 2008.

The Quality of Life Award winners are:

Superior Quality of Life Award (large installation):
U.S Army Garrison, Wiesbaden, Germany
Through the warrior programs, Adopt-a-Room, Adopt-a-Soldier, Eagle Card, and Employment Connection programs, the garrison obtained "no cost to the government" decorations for rooms in the Warrior in Transition Unit barracks, established opportunities for WTU Soldiers to connect with a sponsor for personal interaction, provided Warriors in Transition and their Families discounts and free events, and provided Soldiers meaningful employment that is mentally stimulating and promotes healing.

Superior Quality of Life Award (medium installation):
U.S. Army Garrison, Mannheim, Germany
The USAG Mannheim Garrison Command Team demonstrated its commitment to giving residents quality facilities in return for their dedication to the U.S. Army, and making Soldier and Family Quality of Life commensurate with their sacrifices and service. Facilities include a youth skate park, and environmentally approved car wash.

Superior Quality of Life Award (small installation):
U.S. Army Garrison, Brussels, Belgium
The Brussels' Information Fair provides information to garrison residents pertaining to essential services that are only available off post, such as banking and church services. The ease and quality of information provided at these fairs improves the Quality of Life for the Soldiers and Families assigned to USAG Brussels, the smallest IMCOM-Europe garrison.

Quality of Life Award for Best Practices:
U.S. Army Garrison, Grafenwoehr, Germany
For less than $100, Grafenwoehr developed a program called "Dumping Debt During Deployments," a financial education program designed to educate the Total Army Family while Soldiers are deployed, and to take advantage of the extra funds earned through the Soldier's deployment. This program focused on savings and investing for future goals.

Command Team Quality of Life Award:
Military Intelligence Readiness Command
The commanding general, Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Purser, personally took on the task of establishing a Family Programs Office to ensure the initiatives contained in the Army Family Covenant were delivered to Soldiers and their Families across the Reserve Command. No Family program existed before October 2007, and this gave Families the skills and tools they needed to improve readiness.

Command Team Quality of Life Award (honorable mention):
U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Fort Lewis commander directed the formation of, and personally chaired, a monthly Operational Planning Team to address the Summer Surge known as "Perfect Storm 2008."

Quality of Life Partnership Award:
U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Riley, Kan.
Fort Riley established monthly Community Partnership Conferences between Fort Riley leaders and leaders from the Greater Fort Riley Community with the purpose of bringing together people who have influence in the region in order to leverage resources in five areas directly related to Soldier and Family Quality of Life. Attendance at these conferences has doubled since the first last February.

Quality of Life Award for Communications Excellence:
U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Hood, Texas
Fort Hood created the marketing campaign Get Out On Fort Hood (GOOF off) to promote programs and services created as a result of the Army Family Covenant. They focused on Family discounts and free services, and the slogan created a lasting effect on customers.

"The All-Volunteer Force is a national treasure ... it is succeeding because of the extraordinary work our Families and civilian community members continue to do," Geren said.