State, local and military leaders met here Thursday to pledge to continue working together.


State, local and military leaders met here Thursday to pledge to continue working together.
They re-signed and reaffirmed the Army Community Covenant, which had first been signed on June 16, 2008. The re-signing came during a Polk Progress Update, held at Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk headquarters.
The covenant is an Army-wide initiative intended to increase the partnership between the Army and state and local communities. The goal is to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families, and the re-signing renews the commitment Fort Polk and its surrounding communities have for each other.
Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough, JRTC and Fort Polk commander, said the re-signing wasn't just symbolic.
"There are tons of progress we can account for," he said. "These things don't happen overnight. We couldn't be happier with the progress that has been made."
Louisiana State Sen. John Smith agreed, and said, "I'm proud to see where we have come. We have to give a large thank you to Gen. Yarbrough. I hope we can continue at this level."
Yarbrough noted the nation has been at war for eight years with an all-volunteer force and said soldiers and families have "benefited greatly from what this community has done."
Fort Polk and its surrounding communities were one of 85 to hold signing ceremonies in 2008. The goal for 2009 is to offer every state and city in the country the chance to host a ceremony.
During the progress meeting there were reports from: Mike Reese, Fort Polk Progress president; Jim Hill III, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army; Matt Bailey, military liaison for the office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu; Jon Grafton, England Airpark at Alexandria International Airport; Pat Witty of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development; Jackie Self, Vernon Parish Schools superintendent; Leesville Mayor Betty Westerchil; and Jim Tuck, Vernon Parish Police Jury president.