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Patriotic Article
By Gerry J. Gilmore

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Reserve Component Units Recognized for Superb Family Support
(February 18, 2009)

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see caption below
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Keough Cofield, left, family program liaison, and Chevonne Baxter, family program assistant, both with the 3rd Brigade, 98th Division, 108th Training Command based at Lexington, Ky., pose with their unit's 2008 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award at the Pentagon, Feb. 13, 2009.
  WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2009

Seven National Guard and reserve units received recognition for their support of families of deployed troops at a Pentagon ceremony today.

Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, hosted the annual Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Awards presentation, which highlighted the best National Guard and reserve unit family readiness support programs in 2008.

The awardees constitute “a mirror image of all of those units throughout our country” that labor to assist the families of deployed National Guard members and reservists, Hall said.

Each recognized unit received an engraved wood Defense Department plaque and a certificate signed by Hall. Award recipients also received a certificate and $1,000 from the Military Officers Association of America.

The military's aircraft, ships, tanks and other equipment have little value without the servicemembers who operate and maintain them, Hall pointed out.

“People are the key, and always have been the key, and that's what this ceremony today is about,” Hall said. That's why, he added, it's important to support the families of deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members who perform vital wartime missions.

Having deployed to Iraq in 2003, Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Keough Cofield knows what it's like to serve in a war zone. Today, Cofield is a family program liaison with the 3rd Brigade, 98th Division, 108th Training Command, based at Lexington, Ky. The 108th was among the awardees at today's Pentagon ceremony.

“It's definitely an honor to win this [award],” Cofield said, noting that his unit established an informational Web site for families of deployed servicemembers.

“Families can go online and click on a link and find all of the resources that are available to them,” Cofield said, such as the USO and the Red Cross.

When he was in Iraq, Cofield recalled being comforted by the thought that there were family support personnel ready to assist his family.

“Knowing that there were individuals back home taking care of my family put my mind at ease and let me focus on the mission at hand,” he said.

Cofield's family support assistant, Chevonne Baxter, echoed his comments. “Helping families is very important, because they are the soldier's support system,” she said. “If family isn't taken care of, the soldier will worry.

“We're going to make sure that the families are taken care of in support of that soldier,” she said.

The 108th's family support program operates a monthly family newsletter, Baxter said, and families of deployed servicemembers are frequently contacted via e-mail “to see if everything is running smoothly.”

Other units recognized at the ceremony include:
  • Army National Guard: 263d Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Anderson, S.C.

  • Navy Reserve: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24, Huntsville, Ala.

  • Marine Corps Reserve: 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Portland, Ore.

  • Air National Guard: 153d Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyo.

  • Air Force Reserve: 439th Airlift Wing, Springfield, Mass.

  • Coast Guard Reserve: Port Security Unit 309, Port Clinton, Ohio.

The department's Reserve Family Readiness Awards program was established in 2000. Robust family support programs are important and vital to mission success, officials said, as significant numbers of servicemembers have deployed overseas in support of the global war on terrorism.

Article and photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Copyright 2009

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