Community members pledge support to New Jersey military families
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Morris County community leaders joined military representatives from Picatinny and the New Jersey National Guard to pledge their support to uniformed personnel and their families by signing the Army Community Covenant at Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway Oct. 10.
The covenant recognizes the special bond that exists between area military, their families and the community surrounding Picatinny.
The signing preceded a performance of the U.S. Army Soldier Show before a nearly packed auditorium.
Following brief remarks made by U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Robert J. Maguire and Picatinny Arsenal Commanding General Brig. Gen. William N. Phillips, each of the participants walked to a podium and signed the covenant which was affixed to poster board.
Maguire, on behalf of Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Army leaders in Washington, thanked community leaders for their support of service members and their families during ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We are an Army that is stretched too thin,” he said, describing the strain that a two-front conflict has put on deployed military and their loved ones back home.
Maguire noted that the Army is engaged in the third-longest war in American history and the longest war ever fought with an all-volunteer force.
More than a million men and women have deployed to combat, 4,700 have sacrificed their lives and 11,000 have been decorated for valor, including two Medals of Honor, 14 distinguished service crosses and over 500 silver stars, he said.
“That our Soldiers and families so willingly sacrifice to preserve our way of life and to secure a better future for others says much about Army strength. A strength that comes from our values, from our warrior ethos and from our people,” Maguire said. “This strength is making a difference in the nation’s fight against global terror and it is what gives me great confidence that we will prevail in the current fight.”
When Phillips spoke, he told the audience that he has never experienced a community more supportive of military personnel and their families than New Jersey’s.
“I think Picatinny Arsenal and the relationship we have with our community is one of the strongest in the nation,” he said. “I’ve got 32 years of service with the Army, and I’ve never seen a place that has as strong a relationship as our local community and thanks to all of you who support that.”
Phillips said military families get their strength from the community.
“Communities supporting families, supporting Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are deployed on the frontlines,” he explained.
He thanked community leaders and citizens for their support and urged them to continue to reach out to those needing assistance and services.
Other participants to sign the covenant included Rockaway Township Mayor Louis Sceusi and officials from the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, the Family Services of Morris County, Morris County Freeholders, United Way of Morris County, Daily Record, Saint Claire’s Health System and the Morris Hills School District.
Following the Soldier Show, Brig. Gen. Frank W. Dulfer, who also signed the covenant, joined Phillips in thanking the crowd for their continued support.
Dulfer is the director of the Joint Staff for the New Jersey National Guard, and also serves as the deputy commander for the Joint Task Force-Military Support to Civil Authority.
“I just want to thank Brigadier General Phillips, the Picatinny community and the Morris County community in particular for supporting not only Picatinny Soldiers, but the entire New Jersey Army and National Guard,” Dulfer said.
“We have about 3,000 of our Soldiers from New Jersey currently serving in Iraq, many of them right here from Morris County,” he continued, “Your support coming here tonight and showing your support to their families that are left here behind is a great tribute to them.”
After the Soldier Show, audience members were invited to pledge their commitment to support military members and their families by signing Community Covenant Signing books.
During the event, four individuals were also recognized for their personal support to service members during a Freedom Team Salute ceremony. Freedom Team Salute is a formal Army commendation program which was started in 2005. The mission is to recognize the service and sacrifice made by all those who support our active-duty, National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers.
Individuals recognized were Alan Krutchkoff, H. Allan Virginia, Richard Eastman and Mary Mulholland.
Representing the “Adopt a Soldier Platoon,” Krutchkoff and Virginia were honored for supporting the largest deployment of New Jersey Army troops since World War II. Both are key members of a leadership team that donates its time and talents to support Soldiers and their families. The team has supported 16 units to date to ease the burden of deployment and separation from loved ones.
Eastman was recognized for selflessly supporting service members and their families in several capacities. He serves on the New Jersey National Guard State Family Readiness Council; as the assistant to New Jersey Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Robert J. Maguire; as the director of Morris County Chamber of Commerce Infrastructure Advisory Group and led a Soldier-support community project as part of Leadership Morris.
Mulholland was honored for her life-long community support. Among other accomplishments, she led a fund-raising effort to raise money for the 7th Special Forces’ Family Support Group in support of their combat rotation to Afghanistan.
Army Family Action Plan - www.Army.mil/family