Happy New Year! It is an honor to report to you that this year will be better than the last. That's an ambitious statement, but I know we can back it up. Let me tell you about how good things were last year.

In 2008, we grew as a community. With the goal to normalize tours of duty in the Republic of Korea, more and more family members joined our ranks. The Garrison worked closely with school officials and contractors to ensure additional classrooms were available to meet our needs.

For housing, we opened many on-post field grade quarters to captains and senior warrants. We also renovated two-bedroom quarters on-post to make five-bedroom quarters to accommodate larger families. By the end of the year, we received great news about a renovation project for Hannam Village.

Starting soon, workers will begin a phased-project to reopen the Hannam Village towers with totally revamped and improved family quarters.

We made a lot of progress in building strong and personal friendships with our Korean Good Neighbors in 2008, but I know this year can only get better. The strength of the Korean-American alliance relies on people like you who go out of their way to make friends, share cultural experiences and attempt to learn the language and history of the Korean people. The USAG-Yongsan Good Neighbor Program is alive and well. I firmly believe we will involve even more community members in this vibrant program this year.

Last year, we faced challenges with work slow-downs with our Army and Air Force Exchange Service taxi contract. This caused many inconveniences to our community members. Today, I can tell you that we have never had a better contract in place to serve you. We even have private van service to the airport. Our AAFES friends continue to make life better for the Yongsan community with special sales and promotional events.

In 2008, we made huge strides towards approval of the future K-16 Air Base Commissary. This is a grass-roots effort to support our Family Members in the Seongnam area. Look for progress this year as we go after the funding. K-16 community members can also enjoy a new indoor swimming pool, which opened last month. This year, expect to see a new sports field at K-16.

There are a myriad of other quality of life projects scheduled for 2009. We hope to maintain our Army Communities of Excellence title by continuing to reinvest in the Garrison through renovation projects and upgrades to barracks.

Our mission is to provide excellence in installation management and customer support, and we take it seriously. We are continuously improving quality of life for the USAG-Yongsan community.

The Army has declared 2009 as "Year of the NCO." We salute our valuable noncommissioned officer corps and know that we can always turn to the "backbone of the Army" when we need to get things done.

Our Garrison motto is: "We're here for you!" I challenge you to hold us to our motto. Let us know how we're doing by visiting the Garrison web site and filling out a feedback form through ICE or the Commander's Hotline. We look forward to hearing from you.