WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 28, 2006) - Army All-American Bowl athletes and their Soldier-supporters are gearing up for a community relations program that unites them on and off the field.

"Saluting Our Army All-Americans" connects Army installations and commands with parents, classmates, schools and communities of high school athletes selected to play in America's only national all-star football game - airing live on NBC from San Antonio's Alamodome Jan 6.

The program recognizes America's youth, their schools and the communities that support them. It also gives Soldiers a chance to celebrate with schools and communities before and after the players take to the field.

"I think we are going to see great things this year," said Fort Polk, La., Community Relations Officer Tresa Hess, who participated in the "Salute" pilot program introduced last year. "Anytime we show the community that we have a strong Army, strong people and strong values, it has huge impact."

Fort Polk, Fort Campbell, Ky. and Fort Drum, N.Y. spearheaded the "Salute" program in 2006.

"The effects are astounding. In working with Elton High School, we reached community leaders, families and students in both junior and high school levels," Hess said. "In getting our Call to Duty and Army Values out there, we have potentially influenced these people to a more positive outlook on Soldiers and the Army."

So positive in fact that a teacher thanked Hess for providing role models for her students, a parent asked for copies of the Army values to distribute in church, and a young girl talked to a recruiter about her desire to join the Army and jump out of planes.

"As a commander, I was proud to display my Soldiers as representatives of the Army," said Capt. Marc Meyle, who participated in the Elton High School event.

This year's events will be hosted by Fort Lee and Fort Eustis, Va., Fort Bragg, N.C., and the Military District of Washington. Army Reserve units in California, Florida and Ohio are also planning special events along with Army National Guard commands in Michigan, Iowa and Nevada.

"We are highly encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive public response," Glenna Linville, public affairs officer for the National Guard Bureau. "Soldiers enjoy sharing their life experiences, time and Bowl week with the distinguished student athletes selected for the All-American Bowl Football Team."

Four hundred outstanding athletes were nominated to play in the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and 80 will get the chance to play in the Army's largest sponsored event.

Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster or the Alamodome box office.

For more information go to www.allamericangames.com.