Working to provide all of the services and honor possible to both veteran and active military members Lt. Mike Williams of the Utah Army National Guard approached the East Carbon City Council Tuesday night to advocate the Joining Community Forces and Community Covenant Program. Thrilled with the Lieutenant's presentation, the council voted to sign their proclamation at the community's summer celebration, Community Daze.
The initiative was created in 2008 by the United States Army, designed to reach out to all military service members regardless of service branch. The intent of the program is to encourage cities and towns to formally commit their support to service members and military families residing within their communities. In Utah, the initiative was brought forward in early 2010 with a Community Citation read on the floors of the Utah State House of Representatives and Senate.
According to Williams, the program which was initiated by the Secretary of the Army and enhanced by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden by creating the Joining Forces initiative.
"We have added our own tweak to that," he said. "And we call that the Joining Community Forces (JCF) and that has really fit will with the Community Covenant Program."
Williams reported that the program gains membership by visiting every town in the state and inviting them to official pledge their support for service members both past and present and from every branch of the military. This federal program has grass roots level organization.
"As we have traveled through the state we have noticed that each community is already very patriotic and does quite a bit to show their support in any way they can," explained Williams. "So as I make my presentation, please know that I'm not here to tell your community how to support their veterans. This is just our way to open an avenue of communication between the military and the community."
Williams continued by explaining that the program has four challenges for each community. In East Carbon, the Lieutenant asked that city officials form a collaborative group consisting of civic leaders, educators, law enforcement, religious representatives and health care providers to evaluate and decide on what the community can collectively do to support service members and their families.
He also asked that the city set up a military liaison, responsible for keeping elected, school, law enforcement officials and local clergy aware of service members in their area who are deployed.
"This is a great way to make sure that any active service members family is taken care of while they are deployed," explained Williams. "I know there is a great many individuals deployed in Price and they are a Community Covenant city. Helper is as well and we just approached Carbon County. We would like to have very city in the area."
Williams explained that major cities have been very receptive to the idea. However, smaller communities present a challenge because of time constraints.
"To combat this, we have been pushing signing ceremonies at city council session, somewhere where you can have participation from the community," he said. "We could have an intimate signing ceremony right here. Then you can have an official presentation at your city celebration."
Having two Vietnam War vets on the council, East Carbon officials were more than happy to honor their military.
"What I want to know is where you were at in 1968," said Council member David Maggio, a Vietnam Veteran. "We weren't treated very well when we got home. But this is very cool."
According to Maggio, his high school graduating class was honored by Paul Harvey because of the amount of service they gave the United States. Their service points to a larger amount of military pride which has always been displayed in Carbon County.
Should all groups come together, the Community Covenant will be signed over the second weekend in July.