By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)January 31, 2013
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala -- Anniston Army Depot Commander Col. Brent Bolander joined with seven local community leaders in signing the installation's third Army Community Covenant Jan. 24 at the depot's Berman-Varner House.
Bolander's fellow signees were Col. Charles Keith, garrison commander for the Army National Guard Training Center at Fort McClellan; John Blue, chairman of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce; Col. (ret.) Greg Potts, president of the local Association of the United States Army; Vaughn Stewart, mayor of Anniston; Johnny Smith, mayor of Jacksonville; Steve Baswell, mayor of Ohatchee; and Wayne Willis, mayor of Weaver.
"We have much to be proud of here at Anniston Army Depot when it comes to our military and the community. The re-signing of today's covenant shows our continued support for our Soldiers and their Families," said Bolander prior to the signing.
The covenant, a commitment to foster and sustain partnerships to improve the quality of life of Soldiers and their Families, must be resigned whenever one of the signees leaves their position. Therefore, this is the third covenant signing for the depot since the practice was initiated in 2008.
According to online information from the Army detailing the history of the Army Community Covenant, the Secretary of the Army initiated this program in 2008 in an effort to find out what support existed in America's communities and to raise awareness of the sacrifices our men and women in uniform and their Families make every day. The Army recognizes that most community-based programs support all military service members, not just Army Soldiers. So, the Community Covenant embraces all military but is still carried under the Army name.
A Community Covenant signing ceremony is a public display of support by community leaders to the military and family members living in that community. Over 450 Community Covenants have been signed at ceremonies across the country attended by thousands of American demonstrating support for Service Members and their Families.
Since the initial covenant signing, the depot has enhanced or added a number of programs to assist Soldiers, including:
• Veterans Supermarket of Benefits events to enable local Veterans to locate services available to them.
• Financial readiness through the Army Emergency Relief program, which receives approximately $50,000 in donations annually to assist active and retired military in times of emergency.
•,Marriage reintegration retreats to assist families of previously deployed or deploying Soldiers.
•,Month of the Military Child and Military Family Month programs.
•,Stress management training for the National Guard Training Center.
•,Deployment briefings for local National Guard and Army Reserve units.
•,Army Family Team Building classes for Soldiers, civilians and Families.
•,Divorce support groups for Soldiers and Families.
•,Army Family Action Plan conference to enhance the quality of life for Soldiers and civilians within the depot and surrounding community.
•,Survivor Outreach Service to train Families to cope with the holidays after a loss.
•,Army birthday celebrations.
•,The first ANAD Wounded Warrior Hunt, which was held earlier this month.
Blue emphasized to the gathered crowd that the depot and the National Guard Training Center are frequently in the minds and hearts of his organization. He said that he and other community leaders regularly meet with local members of Congress to ensure the health and longevity of the area military installations.
"The signing of this Community Covenant is symbolic of a relationship that this community has had with the military and civilian Family for a long time," said Blue.
Prior to the covenant ceremony, six elected officials from Calhoun County were presented briefings and a tour to enhance their understanding of the installation.
Stewart, Baswell, Willis, Jacksonville councilman Jonathan Tompkins and two Piedmont councilmembers -- Brenda Spears and Terry Kiser -- received briefings from depot and tenant leaders prior to touring the Combat Vehicle Repair Facility and the Small Arms Repair Facility.
For most of these leaders, it was their first visit to the depot.