LIVORNO, Italy - The Army Family Covenant recognizes the sacrifices of Soldiers' families, as military leadership is certainly well aware of the important role that family plays in a servicemember's life.

Accordingly, many programs here have benefited from the Covenant.

"A variety of services were put together to provide help and to support Army families, while increasing their quality of life, said Kerry Lawrence, Child Youth and School Services coordinator for U.S. Army Garrison Livorno.

Lawrence added that because Camp Darby is "truly purple," the Covenant extends to Air Force families as well.

CYSS recently sponsored a horseback riding trip to San Rossore National Park for families of the 497th Transportation Battalion, which is deployed to Afghanistan.

"This was a really great time to spend together with other families from the unit," said Julie Gardner, Family Readiness Group leader for 497th Trans. "The carriage ride through the woods was extremely relaxing, and my kids loved seeing wild boar and deer bounding past us.

Other such events scheduled in the future include free Valentine's Day childcare and an outing to an amusement park.

The program has also helped to improve staffing, said Evelyn Watkins, the Army Community Service manager here.

"Thanks to the Covenant, Camp Darby ACS now has an outreach mobilization and deployment position," said Watkins. "This person (will) assist (deploying) Soldiers, take care of the family during the Soldier's absence and help Soldiers readjust to home life."

Amber Gaglione, who had previously filled that position but has moved onto a job with the Girl Scouts, organized many initiatives for families of deployed Soldiers, according to Elizabeth Speck, ACS Financial Readiness manager ACS.

"She held special events, such as Halloween pumpkin carving and pizza-making classes, for children and spouses of deployed service members," said Speck. "She did a wonderful job because she truly cares for families here."

"The Army has stood by (its) commitment to provide concrete support to develop strong Soldiers and resilient families," added Watkins.