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Army Honors Top Installations

May 08, 2008
BY Chris Gardner

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 8, 2008) - An installation is more than just a place where Soldiers work and train, it is a community that serves the Soldiers, their Families, retirees, civilians and all other elements of the Army Family, said the Army's vice chief of staff as he recognized this year's top three posts.

Three installations were singled out this morning as best in the Army as winners of the 2008 Army Communities of Excellence competition, which honors the top installations in regards to the overall operating environment, facilities and services offered to its Army community.

First place went to Fort A.P. Hill, Va.; Fort George G. Meade, Md., placed second and U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in the Republic of Korea took third.

There were also special categories for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, which were awarded to the West Virginia Army National Guard and the 65th Regional Readiness Command headquartered at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico respectively.

"Our communities - our posts, camps and stations - support our Soldiers. They're not just power projection platforms, they're homes," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody, who presented the awards to the commanders of the winning installations. "A community of excellence is a community that provides a quality of life for our Soldiers, Families and civilians that is equal to the quality of their service to this nation."

Along with a trophy, all winners received a check, $2 million for first place, $1 million for second place and $750,000 for third and the special categories. The money is meant for investing in future services and improving the overall quality of life for the communities.

All three winning installation commanders said they were not sure specifically how the money would be spent yet, but that they were looking to their communities for ideas right now.

"What we do is we canvass the entire work force," said Lt. Col. Michael S. Graese, garrison commander at Fort. A.P. Hill. "We send out an e-mail and give everybody an opportunity to drum up ideas."

He said in past years prize money has gone toward things like a conference center and a training building.

Graese said he was "ecstatic" when he learned of the installation's first place, especially with Fort A.P. Hill having come close to the top prize in recent years.

"I was ecstatic personally and also professionally for the entire installation," Graese said. "We finished third place three years in a row, so to see the installation continue to work hard to gain this recognition is just awesome."

The garrison commander at Fort Meade, Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy, said his installation has been learning how to better itself through the competition for the past several years and he's hoping to do even better next year.

"It's an exciting day for our entire team, to be able to celebrate a lot of hard work that went into the efforts to get ready for this competition, and really that's what it's all about is what you learn," McCreedy said. "We believe we're a better installation because of it and we hope to compete again next year and bring home the gold."

Army Garrison Yongsan was the only overseas installation that placed this year.

Col. David W. Hall, garrison commander at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, said commanding an installation overseas presents a situation unlike at most continental stateside installations, and makes providing top-notch services and facilities a must.

"The difference in commanding overseas... the people that live and reside in these facilities rely on them. There aren't a lot of choices off-post; there are no Wal Marts." Hall said. "My 25,000 tenants, so to speak, who use Yongsan, USE Yongsan."

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