BARSTOW • Soldiers, community members, and government officials, including state senator of the 18th district Roy Ashburn and mayors from around the High Desert gathered Friday to recognize the signing of the U.S. Army’s first community covenant.
The Army Community Covenant expresses the Army’s commitment to “building strong communities” which, it acknowledges, forms the foundation for strong soldiers.
About 150 people came to witness the signing of covenant with Barstow by Mayor Lawrence Dale, as well as by the mayors of Apple Valley, Victorville, and Adelanto, signing covenants for their respective cities.
Friday’s signing marked one of many Army community covenant signings that took place across the United States this year, beginning at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., and wrapping up one of the last ceremonies in Barstow.
In the one—page document, the Army recognized the sacrifice that soldiers and their families make every day. It then stated that soldiers and their families draw strength from their community, and in turn “The strength of the community comes from the support of employers, educators, civic and business leaders, and its citizens.”
The community covenant follows on the heels of last year’s Army Family Covenant, where Army officials pledged to increase their support of soldiers’ families.
Joann Garcia has six relatives in the military including a niece out at Fort Irwin, and attended the event. She said she feels strongly about sending a community—wide message of support to military service members.
“We should support them 100 percent because they’re fighting for us,” said Garcia, the student life and development manager at Barstow Community College.
The military plays an important role in Barstow, according to Fort Irwin spokesman John Wagstaff.
“We are the No. 1 employer in Barstow and that brings about certain responsibilities,” he said.
Wagstaff cited annual events like the Toys for Tots fundraiser — where the base contributes toy collections — and the Mardi Gras parade — where locals line the streets and applaud as service members march through — as times when soldiers and civilians alike can participate in mutual support of the other.
Garrison Commander of Fort Irwin Jim Chevallier agreed, saying that it’s crucial for soldiers who are away to feel that their families are being taken care of in a supportive environment. “We’re an integral part of the community,” Chevallier said.
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