The more than 100 Family Members who made up Fort Jackson's Families of the Year, watched on as Fort Jackson's commanding general, Brig. Gen. James H. Schwitters, signed the Army Family Covenant Monday at the MG Robert B. Solomon Center.
The covenant is an Army-wide initiative that pledges to provide support for Army families, increase the accessibility and quality of healthcare, improve Soldier and family housing and fund family programs and services.
"It's a recognition that the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army are committed to improving the quality of life for Soldiers and family members," Schwitters said.
The covenant provides $1.4 billion for fiscal year 2008, and Army leadership is looking to include similar measures in the budget for the next five years. According to Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody, the Army has committed $40 billion over the next six years to support family programs.
Schwitters said as more service members face multiple deployments, the strain on families continues to increase.
"We have never asked as much of our Soldiers and families as we do now. They are both stepping forward and meeting those challenges," he said. "We owe both the Soldier and their families the quality of life that is commensurate with their service."
Col. Lillian Dixon, garrison commander, said "Army Strong" does not happen unless the Army is "Family Strong" first.
"We recognize the strength of our Soldiers comes from our families," she said. "We will provide a strong, supportive environment, and we will strive to ensure that Fort Jackson remains a No. 1 installation."
In addition to Schwitters and Dixon, the covenant was signed by Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Carlson, post command sergeant major, and Command Sgt. Maj. Lewis Kellam, garrison command sergeant major.

The Army Family Covenant

We recognize the commitment and increasing sacrifices that our families are making every day.
We recognize the strength of our Soldiers comes from the strength of their families.
We are committed to providing Soldiers and families a quality of life that is commensurate with their service.
We are committed to providing our families a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive.
We are committed to building a partnership with Army families that enhances their strength and resilience.
We are committed to improving family readiness by:
Aca,!Ac Standardizing and funding existing family programs and services
Aca,!Ac Increasing accessibility and quality of healthcare
Aca,!Ac Improving Soldier and family housing
Aca,!Ac Ensuring excellence in schools, youth services, and child care
Aca,!Ac Expanding education and employment opportunities for family members