By Julia LeDouxNovember 18, 2008
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Hundreds braved sometimes inclement weather Nov. 15 to show their appreciation for the nation's service members and their families and to pay special tribute to Fort Belvoir during an Army Community Covenant Signing Ceremony at Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge campus.
"We are very honored and humbled to be a part of this," Fort Belvoir Installation Commander Col. Jerry Blixt said. "We are looking forward to coming together to be better partners, better neighbors as we go forward. We look forward to a great partnership as we go."
Hosted by the Quantico-Belvoir Business Alliance, the ceremony brought military, government and business leaders, service members and civilian and military families to the campus for a day of fun, food, entertainment and networking.
Dr. Sam Hill, Quantico-Belvoir Regional Business Alliance chairman and provost of Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge campus, explained that the Army Community Covenant is a formal commitment of support by the state and local community to both soldiers and their families.
"Together with the Army, we're committing to build a strong region," he continued. "As a region, we recognize the commitment soldiers and their families make every day. We recognize the strength of the soldiers comes from the strength of their families and the strength of the families is supported by the strength of the community and that comes from the support of employers, educators, civic and business leaders and its citizens. Today we come together to show our support for our service members and their families as well as Fort Belvoir and Quantico Marine base."
Designed to develop and foster effective state and community partnerships with the Army, the Community Covenant is also focused on improving the quality of life for soldiers and their families both at their current duty sations and as they transfer from state to state.
Hill said the nonprofit Quantico-Belvoir Regional Business Alliance came of age this year to ensure that businesses and workers in Northern Virginia are "able to realize and benefit from the economic opportunities presented by the BRAC build up at [Marine Corps Base] Quantico and Belvoir."
BRAC, or Base Realignment and Closure, will bring approximately 19,300 additional personnel to Fort Belvoir by 2011.
Prince William County, Va., Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart said the county is proud to take part in welcoming the troops and expansion at Fort Belvoir.
"We see this as a tremendous opportunity not just for the Route 1 corridor but the entire Prince William community," he said.
Outgoing Fairfax County, Va., Board of Supervisors chairman and Congressman-elect Gerry Connolly, whose county is home to Fort Belvoir, noted that the Army installation is a vital part of the community.
"What I really appreciate is that the leadership of Belvoir understands how important it is to integrate itself into the community," he said. "What we're signing today recognizes that we in the community recognize the importance of making sure that integration is successful."
Stafford County, Va., Supervisor Bob Woodson said Quantico Marine Corps base will receive an additional 3,000 personnel by 2011 as a result of BRAC.
"That will bring the total number of jobs on Quantico to nearly 18,000," he said. "Stafford is working with the Office of Economic Adjustment and Prince William County and we have created the Quantico Growth Management Committee to help us prepare for this influx of jobs and people. Building on the past, we are proud to be partnering with Quantico and the federal government to welcome new missions to our region. Our vision is to build what soon will be known as the enforcement capital of the world on the base."
Woodson added that Stafford County is diligently working on a master plan for Boswells Corner, just outside Quantico's back gate, in order to facilitate the growth of off-site contractor space and other necessary support services that will be required as a result of BRAC.
"We recognize the sacrifices that service members make for our freedom and we are honored to be able to give something back to these brave men and women," he said.