By Mr Eric Kowal (RDECOM)February 27, 2012
Picatinny officials, along with elected and Sussex County community leaders and the United Way of Northern New Jersey, pledged their support for local military families by signing a U.S. Army Community Covenant at a ceremony Feb. 16 at the Cannon Gates Catering and Conference Center.
The Community Covenant program is designed to foster and sustain effective community partnerships with the U.S. Army and all military branches to improve the quality of life for service members and their families.
"The Army Community Covenant is a formal commitment of support by state and local officials to Soldiers and Family Members," said Lt. Col. Herb Koehler, Picatinny Arsenal's Garrison Commander.
Koehler added that while Picatinny Arsenal is an Army facility, the parties joined in the covenant are making a formal commitment to support service members in all branches of the U.S military, including those in the reserve components and National Guard.
"We host all four services around our installation, therefore it is fitting that our covenants serve all, regardless of which uniform they wear," said Koehler.
Over the last few years Picatinny officials have signed covenants with several municipalities in Morris County.
Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Picatinny's commanding general and Program Executive Officer for Ammunition, was unable to attend the event but noted that support is a continuous circle.
"Soldiers draw strength from their families, families rely on the community, and the Army and the nation rely on the strength of its Soldiers and that is what makes us 'Army Strong,'" Maddux said.
Representing only one percent of our population in the United States, military members willingly take on the ultimate responsibility of protecting our nation.
Missing small moments of each day that we often take for granted here at home, as well as irreplaceable milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations with the people they love, our service members make continuous sacrifices.
Col. Jeff Wilson, chief of staff, filled in for Maddux and told the nearly 40 signatories that he was "impressed and overjoyed for the robust turnout of leadership from Sussex County" on what was their first formal showing of commitment to support military members.
"This is an affirmation of support from our surrounding community," Wilson said. "The covenant is a manifestation from the realization from Army leadership that family is the backbone of our Soldiers. And the centerpiece to our formation is the Soldier."
Wilson added that Army leadership realized that "the quality of the Soldiers' contributions ought to be matched by their quality of life."
Under the Community Covenant, local legislators and members of commerce vow to support their service members whenever they can.
Some tangible benefits from the covenant include financial and legal counseling for service members, business discounts, home and auto maintenance, employment and health care.