Hope and I are at the end of our tour here in Stuttgart, and I just want to say that I really am glad that I lived here.
The last two years have been a great experience. This was our first European assignment, and it gave us the chance to explore much of what Stuttgart, Germany and Europe have to offer. We’ve enjoyed Stuttgart’s vibrant cultural scene, visiting its museums, concert halls and castles, and taking part in the numerous festivals organized throughout the year: the wine village, Frühlingsfest, Volksfest and Christmas market. It’s been great fun. On the business side, the garrison’s German neighbors are one of our greatest assets. Over the years, the garrison has built confidence and trust with key German leaders in the greater Stuttgart area, and as a result, we have fantastic stationing support. Shortly after taking command of the garrison, I realized just how fortunate we were to be part of the greater Stuttgart military community.
Hope and I have truly enjoyed calling U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart “home.”
We love the small town, neighborly feel of the garrison: that everyone knows one another by name, that there are nice and generous people who are willing to help others out. We love that this is a joint services community and that we’ve been able to live among families of all service branches. I’d like to think that we now speak three more languages: Navy, Marine and Air Force! I am extremely fortunate and privileged to have been able to work in a joint services environment such as this. Not only has it been a unique and interesting experience, but the level of support the garrison has received from U.S. European and Africa Commands, and the other tenant units has been very inspiring. While the garrison offers some awesome programs and services, time and time again, it’s the partnerships with our tenant units that make them possible. This month’s annual Run to Remember, a collaboration between 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, and the garrison Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, is one example. School registration, where the garrison, the schools and the Exchange join forces to make registration easier for our families, is another. The Stuttgart Community Spouses Club Spring Bazaar, where hundreds of people pull together as one to benefit the community, is yet another.
Excellence is everywhere.
Last year, the USAG Stuttgart Army Substance Abuse Program won the Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award for its prevention and outreach efforts, for the second time in three years. The 1-10th SFG(A) Dining Facility on Panzer Kaserne earned top place in the military garrison category of the 2012 Philip A. Connelly Award for Excellence in Army Food Service. And the Stuttgart Law Center just received the Judge Advocate General’s Excellence in Claims Award for fiscal year 2011, for its handling of claims following the Stuttgart warehouse fire that occurred in October 2010. The fire destroyed the household goods of 121 military families, and in less than 24 hours of being notified, the community rallied into action with unselfish donations of money, clothing and furniture. But it doesn’t take a devastating event for an outpouring of generosity in this community.
As evidence, I offer up this year’s Combined Federal Campaign, the most successful ever held in the Stuttgart military community, where service members and civilian employees donated more than $520,000 to support non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.
And what about the community volunteers who donated more than 213,000 hours last year to assist local organizations and agencies, saving more than $4.5 million in labor costs? At a time of restructuring and financial belt tightening, their efforts continue to be tremendous, and my hat is off to them. And while the garrison will continue to be faced with fiscal challenges, you can be sure it will still forge forward to provide the best possible service to our service members, their families and our tenant units. Why? Because the garrison is staffed by professionals who understand their mission is to deliver superior services and support to the community. No matter who is in charge, they will continue to make USAG Stuttgart a better place to serve, live and play — one service member, one civilian and one family member at a time. Thank you all for making these past two years one of the most professionally and personally rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
I’ll see you all on the high ground.