By Amanda Stephenson, Fort Sam Houston Morale, Welfare and RecreationJanuary 22, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - By now you may have seen posters and flyers around Fort Sam Houston advertising the Army Family Covenant.
And you may ask yourself: What is it'
Unveiled in October 2007, the Army Family Covenant is a commitment by the secretary and chief of staff of the Army to deliver high-quality programs to Soldiers and Families commensurate with their service.
Through the covenant, the Army pledges to:
- Standardize Family programs and services;
- Ensure health care is better and easily accessible;
- Improve housing for Soldiers and Families;
- Make certain schools, youth services and child care centers are a priority; and
- Expand career and education opportunities for Army spouses and children.
Many examples of the AFC can be seen on Fort Sam Houston.
The Child, Youth & School Services Middle School Teen Center opened October 2009.
The 20,668-square-foot center is one of the first Base Realignment and Closure facilities to be built for the Department of the Army Child and Youth Services Division. The 60-person-capacity modular building will provide age-appropriate programming for grades six through 12.
Designed with input from youth, the center features game systems including the Wii, Play Station 2, Nintendo DS, Dance Revolution and Xbox, music, board games, art supplies and plenty of sports including a ping pong table, outdoor pool table, and a rock climbing wall.
Dodge balls, tennis balls and scooters are available for use; plus computers in the computer technology lab, an area for culinary arts, activity rooms, and a multipurpose room with adjustable basketball goals.
Soldiers and Families enjoyed this year's Fiesta and Oktoberfest events, which featured activities for all ages to enjoy from live bands, to carnival rides, to Radio Disney performances.
Events such as Military Appreciation Days, outdoor movie nights, bowling parties and Family fun days are aimed to provide a safe, community-oriented environment for Soldiers and Families.
"I am very pleased to see all that the Army is offering its Soldiers within the Army Family Covenant," said Paul Matthews, director of FSH Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
"Having served in Vietnam, I am honored to be in a position to provide these support services that our men and women serving today richly deserve."
The AFC has also had a large national footprint. Since 2007, more than 41,000 military spouses have been placed in the Army Spouse Employment Program, which partners with Fortune 500 companies to provide employment opportunities.
Access to quality health care has also increased. In the past two years, 36 Warrior Transition Units were created to support more than 7,700 wounded warriors and more than half a million eligible members of the selected reserve and their Families received standard TRICARE coverage at a 25-percent lower rate.
Throughout the next few years, the Army Family Covenant will continue to be a pivotal part of the military - whether Soldiers are overseas or in our own backyards.
"In today's environment we have something called the Army Family Covenant and it is not just words.
"We recruit Soldiers but we retain Families and the only way to do that is to ensure that they have that quality of life commensurate with the service that our members are providing every single day," said Col. Mary Garr, commander, U.S. Army Garrison, during the opening of the teen center.
"We are collectively enhancing the needs of our kids and with the growth we have coming into Fort Sam Houston; this is one more step in that direction," Garr added.
"The future is bright, because leadership is committed to improving programs, services and facilities and I have little doubt that Fort Sam will be the showcase for the rest of the Army.
"It is a great place for our youth to grow, mature, and develop life skills that will serve them better in the years ahead," Matthews said.