WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 27, 2009) -- Nominations are now being accepted for a new award that recognizes teams or individuals responsible for improving the quality of life at Army garrisons.

The Quality of Life Awards were developed by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren last year to recognize individuals, commands and team efforts in improving Soldier and family quality of life. It is anticipated the winners will be announced and awarded in early October.

"This competition is open to all Army commands, Army service-component commands, direct-reporting units, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve units and personnel," said Dennis Bohannon, who manages the annual award program.

Winners do not have to be herculean efforts. Often a relatively simple action can produce significant results that improve Soldiers' and families' lives, he says.

Last year's winner of the Superior Quality of Life Award for Small Installations was a garrison of only 2,800 men, women and children in Brussels, Belgium. On a limited budget, Cathy Blumenthal, a host-nation employee who is often described as "dynamic," brought Brussels and all it had to offer to this tiny post.

Blumenthal spearheaded an "Info Fair" that offered information on what Brussels had to offer by way of shops for the holiday season - literally offering one-stop shopping for everything the Army family needed to know about Brussels.

These are the kind of efforts that the secretary of the Army is looking for and wants to recognize - initiatives that impact the daily lives of those in and affiliated with the All-Volunteer Army, Bohannon said.

There are five categories in which to submit nominations:

Aca,!Ac The Superior Quality of Life Award is for an initiative that could be emulated by all installations and commands worldwide.

Aca,!Ac The Command Team Quality of Life Award is for a command team that best demonstrates personal involvement in initiating single or multiple quality of life improvements within their command.

Aca,!Ac The Quality of Life Award is presented to an installation, command or group that has demonstrated the ability to develop "best practices" to improve Soldiers and their family's quality of life. Best practices are a method, program or action that can be adopted by other installations or commands.

Aca,!Ac The Quality of Life Partnership Award is presented to new or exciting partnerships that have improved Soldier or family quality of life programs. Partnerships can be between commands, organizations and individuals.

Aca,!Ac The Quality of Life Award for Communication Excellence is presented to individuals or commands that have employed new or unique communication efforts in telling primary and secondary audiences of Soldier and family quality of life successes. This can include emerging media, such as Facebook or Twitter, or stories told with a unique and fresh angle using the proper media that got the message across.

"This year, selection and nominations to the Army-level competition must be received prior to Sept. 4," Bohannon said. "A panel of judges from across the Army Staff will be selected to judge the entries."

Submission procedures and examples of last year's winning entries can be found on the homepage of the Army's Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, or ACSIM, at www.acsim.army.mil.

In a joint letter, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. told of the need to show "that our actions match our words." These awards provide commanders the opportunity to spotlight those that acted in the name of Soldiers and their families.

Commands are encouraged to take entries from teams and organizations, judge them and send the top selections electronically to dennis.bohannon@us.army.mil.