If all goes according to plan, Thursday, May 8, I will stand with the U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Richard A. Cody, in the Pentagon to receive a trophy and commemorative flag to signify that U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan is a 2008 Army Communities of Excellence winner.

Our third place victory has won the community a $750,000 prize, which we plan to reinvest into making Yongsan even better.

I cannot begin to tell you how honored I am to be the commander of such a great community.

The Army Communities of Excellence competition is the gold standard for installation management. It's not a beauty contest. It measures how well the Garrison staff and support offices meet the needs of our community members.

A lot of very hard work went into making this day a reality. The nomination process is vigorous.

In March 2007, the garrison leadership met for an important off-site strategic planning conference at K-16 Air Base. They nailed down a road map to communicate the Garrison's mission, vision and values.

Our Plans, Analysis and Integration chief, Barry Robinson, took the lead in writing the nomination packet. He gathered all of the charts, metrics and data together that show what processes the Garrison has in place to meet our stakeholder's needs.

The Garrison staff that supports the Yongsan community and eight other installations in this area is made up of more than 1,200 people. We are a staff of professional Korean and American civilian employees, Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army Soldiers and U.S. Soldiers who work day in and day out to keep you the community member satisfied.

Last October, we met as an organization for an employee town hall meeting.

At that town hall meeting, we talked about what makes a garrison good. We talked about customer satisfaction. We talked about "how" to make us better.

In November, the Department of the Army sent an inspection team to validate our processes. They were impressed. We were told that our stakeholder-Garrison interaction was excellent.

We then signed the Yongsan Army Family Covenant with you!

The covenant is our promise to recognize that the strength of our Army comes from the strength of our Army Families.

"We are committed to providing Soldiers and Families a Quality of Life that is commensurate with their service," says the promise we made. "We are committed to providing our Families a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive."

To me, our success in the ACOE competition validates our commitment to you, the community members. Our commitment to you is what makes the Army Family Covenant a reality:

"We are committed to improving Family readiness by:
--Standardizing and funding existing Family programs and services
--Improving Soldier and Family housing
--Ensuring excellence in schools, youth services and child care
--Expanding education and employment opportunities for Family members"

Our victory means we're on the right track, making the right decisions. We are serving a great community. I am proud to live and work in one of the top three U.S. Army communities in the world. I hope you are too.

If you would like to suggest how we can best use that $750K to spend wisely on community-oriented programs, please contact me at usagyongsanhotline@korea.army.mil.