Armed Forces Week: Community sends thanks to area troops

By: michael S. HUmphreys Special to The Gazette
May 11, 2014 Updated: May 11, 2014 at 9:59 am
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Armed Forces Week inspires events nationwide to honor troops.

The biggest and longest-running celebration of America's military members is again set for Colorado Springs.

The Military Affairs Council of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance will host the Armed Forces Week Luncheon on Tuesday at The Broadmoor. The luncheon gives community members a chance to thank troops and organizers use it to announce the winners of the Outstanding Enlisted Member of the Year honors in three rank classes.

The luncheon, which draws hundreds of Pikes Peak region military and business leaders, has been held for more than three decades.

"This is our opportunity as a community to recognize and honor the contribution that the enlisted soldiers mean to our military," said Andy Merritt, chief defense industry officer for the business alliance.

Gen. Chuck Jacoby, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, will speak at the luncheon. More than 500 business and community leaders are expected to attend.

Businesses will foot the bill so more than 300 enlisted troops can attend and sit alongside community members.

"The focus of our event is about thanking our enlisted men and women, and recognizing the valuable role they play protecting our country," Merritt said.

The pool of award nominees consists of junior enlisted troops, mid-level sergeants and senior enlisted troops.

Each of the commands around Colorado Springs nominates personnel.

"We recognize the pool of finalists representing those commands. Then within those categories we select a single individual winner," Merritt said.

He said the winner in each category will receive a packet including gifts and special offers from many area businesses.

Merritt said Colorado Springs has long been regarded by the military as one of its most supportive communities, and the Military Affairs Council is determined to keep it that way.

"The thing that makes the U.S. military the greatest in the world is not just the advance weapons we have, it's the people," Merritt said.

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