By Jim Hughes, USAG Ansbach Public AffairsNovember 9, 2007
ANSBACH, Germany - About 100 Soldiers, spouses, children and civilians attended the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Army Family Covenant signing ceremony here Oct. 31 on Bismarck Kaserne.
Described as an Army-wide leadership's show of support and commitment to Army Families, Lt. Col. Tammy McKenna, garrison commander, Command Sgt. Maj. James Esters and Lt. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker, commander of V Corps, signed the covenant. Afterwards, they all explained how the Army and USAG Ansbach intend to live up to that pledge.
"The ceremony today is a symbolic gesture being done across the Army ... in recognition of the commitment and increasing sacrifices that our families are making every day as their Soldiers continue (to) support the Global War on Terrorism," McKenna said.
McKenna touched on how the Army is investing $1.4 billion in 2008 to improve the quality of life for families Army-wide and enhance existing programs.
She added that Ansbach is already on the way to making itself the community of choice in the Army.
"From town homes and a shopping mall planned for 2010 to on-going renovations of child care centers, fitness centers and housing areas, to free trips during deployments to free bowling to increased customer service at the health clinics and more, Ansbach is making headway in increasing the quality of life for our families," she said. "I assure you that commitment will only grow stronger."
Hunzeker underscored that the commitment is solid and originated with Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey after he talked to Soldiers and families shortly after taking command.
"We recognize that this is the first step in a long process of what we need to do," Hunzeker said. "My wife and I have been through almost all the communities in Germany that are part of V Corps, and it's incredible the work that has been done and continues to be done.
"There is a plan that is going on to make sure you have all the facilities you will need in the future," he added. "Is it perfect' Absolutely not. Do we have a plan' Absolutely. These things take time and our challenge as leaders and community members is to recognize that."
McKenna's and Hunzeker's words - along with the video "Army Family Strong" - left an impression on the families at the ceremony, including Yucel Henderson, whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Duncan Henderson, is deployed with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Iraq.
"I was told before that I was being taken care of, but when I hear it directly from (command leaders) I feel more secure about it," she said. "I feel like I'm being supported and that I'm not alone while my husband is deployed."
Henderson added that the "Army Family Strong Video" left an impression on her.
"Sometimes people feel they're the only ones going through what we're going through right now; the video showed me other people dealing with the same issues I'm dealing with. They did a great job of capturing their stories," she said, adding that she was also impressed with McKenna's slide show of planned and in-progress improvements within the community.
McKenna closed out the ceremony with: "Thank you for your sacrifices and all that you do in supporting your Soldiers and your country," McKenna said. "Please continue to let us know how we can improve our service to you and help us make this the community of choice in the Army."