Strength of Army Families praised as Old Hickory departs for Iraq
Soldiers and Army families from the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, composed of National Guardsmen drawn from North Carolina, West Virginia, and Colorado, participate in a departure ceremony marking the beginning of the HBCT's second deployment in su... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Army News Service, April 15, 2009) Aca,!" The Army family of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team was honored with a standing ovation led by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren during a departure ceremony at the Crown Coliseum, April 14.

Facing a capacity crowd of more than 10,000 Soldiers and families, Geren said, "And I want to say thank you to the great citizens of North Carolina. Citizens of Fayetteville executed a Community Covenant a year and a half ago, and last AugustAca,!A|the citizens of Charlotte joined the citizens from all over this state to pledge that they would support you and your family members.Aca,!A?

The 30th HBCT is composed of National Guardsmen drawn from North Carolina, West Virginia, and Colorado.

Aca,!A"This is when those communities are going to step up and stand with your family members,Aca,!A? said Geren.

More than 4,000 National Guard Soldiers will deploy with 'Old Hickory,' so named in honor of President Andrew Jackson. The brigade has deployed five times in task-force sized units since 1983. This is their second year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Army has long recognized the essential role of the Army family, and since 2007 has established two programs to improve their support.

The Army Family Covenant recognizes the sacrifices of families by providing additional funding for quality of life programs, and the Army Community Covenant establishes partnerships with communities where Army families live, work, and as they transfer from state-to-state.

"Support for families makes it easier to do your job, takes a lot of worry off you," said Sgt. Winston Dehart, a scout and married father of three boys from Bluefield, W.V.

Aca,!A"It will kind of make you or break you,Aca,!A? agreed Sgt. Joe Ellison, a married father of two and signal specialist from Pipeston, W.V. He noted that there is much better support available now than during his previous deployment.

An immediate example of community commitment was the lunch for family members provided by the Red Cross, and lunch for 4,500 Soldiers provided by local business leaders.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm just happy to do whatever I can do, whenever I can do it for the Soldiers and their families,Aca,!A? said Don Price of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, who organized contributions from Bryant Foods, Wal-Mart, and the Fayetteville New Car Dealers Association.

Aca,!A"It might be raking leaves or shoveling snow or helping with homework or carpoolAca,!A| there is no substitute for neighbors helping neighbors,Aca,!A? said Geren.