TOPEKA - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback hosted senior military leaders from around the state for the signing of the Army Community Covenant and the continuation of the Governor's Military Council Feb. 24 at the state capitol in Topeka.

The signings, which were Brownback's first as a first-term governor, were part of the annual Kansas Military Appreciation Day celebration.

Brownback told those present that Kansans appreciate the military every day, not just once a year.

"Kansas is a military hospitable state," he said. "Our people love the military. We're delighted to have the 'Big Red One' back. We want to be a key part of our nation's defense."

Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, summed up his gratitude toward Kansans.

"We very much appreciate our home in the heartland," Brooks said.

The growth Fort Riley has experienced in recent years, he said, can partly be attributed to military-friendly representation in the Kansas legislature.

After the signings of the community covenants and the executive order to continue the GMC, Brownback met behind closed doors with the military leaders from Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, McConnell Air Force Base and the adjutant general of the Kansas National Guard.

The governor convened with the commanders and the rest of the GMC following lunch. The group sought to find potential solutions to past, present and potential future issues that could impact service members, their Families and communities surrounding their installations.

Brownback said the military's relationship is important to Kansas because of the global impact of the armed forces and Kansans' desire to contribute to that.

"We think the military is key to moving the world toward freedom and democracy," he said. "This is a very important thing to us to be host."

The signing of the Army Community covenant was the final in a series of of covenants signed with communities in the Central Flint Hills Region in 2010.

The covenant's goal is that by working together, the region and Fort Riley will be able to provide a higher quality of life for the Soldiers and Families.