Why some American cities need to Meet Your Army

Redstone Arsenal -- Everyday some 40,000 people go to work on Redstone Arsenal. Many of them work for Army commands and programs.  There is a reason the Association of the US Army comes to Huntsville on an annual basis: this is Army country.

It is not the target for the "Meet Your Army" program.

"It's designed  to connect the American people to their Army.  That's the bottom line with the program," said Col. Richard Spiegel, the Director of Public and Congressional Affairs for the Army Materiel Command.

This year's "Meet Your Army" effort is targeting a dozen cities including Phoenix, Philadelphia and Birmingham.  The Commander of Redstone Arsenal's Army Materiel Command, General Gus Perna, spent time in Alabama's largest city. He met with government and civic leaders, and visited with ordinary citizens.  General Perna was there, because Birmingham has something in common with all the other cities on this year's list.

"The top cities that are under represented by the Army, where there's not a large Army presence.  And they designate those cities for that special attention. For people to go in and understand what their Army is all about," said Colonel Spiegel.

Most every American knows something about the Army. For anyone watching the news the past several years it's hard not to. American forces have been engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan for years.  But that's part of the reason for the "Meet Your Army" effort. "To understand that the Army is not just about Iraq or Afghanistan.  The Army is about a force of innovators. That the Army has job opportunities that are beyond what people generally think, doctors, lawyers, artisans," said Col. Spiegel.

"We want the people of that city to become engaged with the Army. We want to humanize it, personalize it. We want them to realize that people who come from that city serve and are out there performing their duty every day." said the Colonel.  He added that every day there are soldiers doing humanitarian projects around the world, and even on duty fighting forest fires in the United States.

The Army is proud of its citizen soldiers, and wants to make sure that every American understands what they do.  The "Meet Your Army" program is a multi-year effort to make that happen.   The cities on the list this year include, Portland, Oregon...Sacramento, California...Phoenix, Arizona...Des Moines, Iowa...St. Louis, Missouri...Richmond, Virginia...Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...Kansas City, Missouri...Oklahoma City, Oklahoma...Birmingham...Albany, New York...New York City, New York

On the list for the program next year, Atlanta.