By Ms. Rachel Newton (AMC)December 17, 2012
In honor of Pine Bluff Arsenal's military Families and to celebrate November as Military Family Appreciation Month, a prayer breakfast was held Nov. 29 at the PBA Community Club. Theme of this year's recognition is "Army Families -- Strong, Caring, Resilient."
The posting of the colors was presented by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff ROTC color guard, an invocation was presented by Amelio Howard with the Arsenal's Directorate of Information Management, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by William Boyce and Thomas Johnson, Arsenal Child, Youth and School Services Teen Ambassadors, and Dylan and Madison Foster, children of Lt. Col. Jeffrey and Teresa Foster. Special music by Becky Vaughn-Holsted was presented following the guest speaker by
"I just want to thank everybody for coming out today to help us celebrate Military Families Month," said Col. David Musgrave, Arsenal commander. "I know we have a lot of military here. We don't have a large active duty population but I thought it was beneficial that we celebrate our Families. When I say Families, I mean the extended Family as well."
Sometimes as Soldiers, we don't know what our Family goes through, said Musgrave. "We are focused on our mission, focused on our battle buddies, and trying to get the job done especially when we deploy. But, there are a lot of things that goes on with running a household and taking care of children," he said. "A lot of times our military Families don't get the acknowledgement that they deserve."
Missy Brodnax, director of the Arsenal's Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, acknowledged several Arsenal personnel in the audience with military Family ties. A video titled "Joining Forces," with information about military family support was also shown.
Brodnax said that the guest speaker, Normal Gilchrest, has become part of the Arsenal family. "We first heard him speak at our Combined Federal Campaign kickoff where he stole the show," she said. "We learned that that Mr. Gilchrest was no stranger to the military, having served in the Air Force and the Arkansas Air National Guard. He served as the highest ranking enlisted person as Command Chief Master Sergeant."
Gilchrest thanked Brodnax for the introduction, teasing her a bit by offering a gift of a losing lottery ticket. "I give this with love," he laughed.
He said he was proud to be here helping honor military Families, and offered up a silent prayer for our military overseas deployed serving our country. "We hope by being here we are able to uplift our support of our military members," said Gilchrest. "I am proud to put this uniform on and be a part of our military. It gives me a sense of pride, and belonging and being."
Gilchrest, who retired in 2009 with 33 years of government service, said he wanted to express his gratitude. "I want to thank everyone for their support of the military especially our military Families. Without out you, we couldn't make it," he said. "With you, we have developed a strong bond of togetherness. We are in a challenging time. We need to think about these times courageously."
When we are deployed, he said military members miss birthdays and anniversaries. "We miss those strategic events that are part of our military life," he said. "But with that Family support system, we are able to have that core stay intact. I think of the debt of gratitude that we should offer our families because of all the sacrifices they have offered up. We have to make sure we take care of our Families. Let us celebrate today."