By Tina Ray/ParaglideOctober 8, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When the Army Family Covenant was first signed in 2007, it was signed under a different president and a different political party, said Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander.
On Sept. 29, Fort Bragg officials renewed its commitment to the Army Family by signing the Army Family Covenant in a 3 p.m. ceremony at Tolson Youth Activities Center on Normandy Drive.
Army Family Covenant is a commitment to provide a quality of life commensurate with the Soldier's dedicated service to the nation.
"This (signing) is cutting across political lines," Sicinski said after the ceremony. "This is apolitical."
A Soldier is not the only person who serves, said Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. The Soldier's Family also serves. The Army is committed to taking care of those Soldiers and Families.
"If there is a need, the Army has a program for it," Helmick said.
In the time since Fort Bragg first signed the Army Family Covenant in November 2007, Fort Bragg has spent more than $50 million on Family programs, including the construction of new child development centers, the construction and renovation of more than 2,000 Family homes and the renovation of four physical fitness centers and three pools, officials said.
Other improvements attained under Army Family Covenant has been the implementation of the First Sergeant Barracks Initiative, and the elimination of Child, Youth and School Services registration fees, as well as collaboration with school districts to support transitioning students.
Re-signing the covenant Sept. 29, ensures that the Army's commitment to Soldiers and their Families does not die on the vine, Sicinski said. Quality of life programs that have been stood up in the past few years will continue.
At the signing, Army leadership was flanked by Families of the year representing the XVIII Abn. Corps, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Womack Army Medical Center, Gold Star Families and Warriors in Transition.
"What you see is the senior leadership of the Army continuing to make the commitment that we will take care of our Families," Helmick said.
Staff Sgt. Jason Plymale, an assistant in the diagnostic radiology department at WAMC, said he first joined the Army five years ago because of its healthcare benefits. The Fayetteville native and married father of four young children, ranging in ages from four years to five months, said that in taking care of Families, the Army has saved his Family a lot of money over the years.
"I never have to worry about a health-related bill ever, and when I do get a bill, Tricare (health care program) pays for it," Plymale said. "It's probably saved us over $100,000 in five years, between the births and various medical visits."
Not only has Tricare helped to meet his Family's needs, Plymale said he reenlisted because of the education benefits he has been offered. Plymale is pursuing a bachelor's degree in healthcare management at Campbell University.
In 2009, recognized for its commitment to Families, Fort Bragg earned the Army Community of Excellence award, Helmick said.
Re-signing the Army Family Covenant is very important and it means that Fort Bragg will continue to support Soldiers and Families with quality programs, ensuring their well-being, said Helmick.
"If there is one thing you will get from me as the senior commander, it is the commitment to Family programs. You can break your promises, but you cannot break your commitments."