WASHINGTON -- Arizona broke the mold in May by becoming the first state to join "America Supports You," the Defense Department's program that highlights Americans' efforts to support the troops.
Now Arizona is again making news, this time by broadcasting the Pentagon Channel, a military news and information TV channel, over the public airwaves.
John Keegan, mayor of Peoria, Ariz., is spearheading the efforts to broadcast the Pentagon Channel statewide on cable TV. Keegan said he feels the Pentagon Channel would be beneficial to the state because there are so many military communities in Arizona. The Pentagon Channel would also benefit the civilian community, he said, because not as many families today have members in the military, and therefore have less of an appreciation for what servicemembers go through.
"It's easy for Americans to be introspective and not think about the realities of the rest of the world," he said. "But our sons and daughters are facing it on a daily basis. It's important for all of America, in a time of war, to have an appreciation for the military."
The intermediate goal is to broadcast the Pentagon Channel 24 hours a day in Peoria on local channels, Keegan said. The ultimate goal is for the Pentagon Channel to be broadcast statewide, he said.
Already Keegan, a 27-year veteran of the active Army and Naval Reserve, is working with mayors of other communities to reach these goals. There is unanimous approval among the mayors for the concept of broadcasting the Pentagon Channel, but facilitating it poses some challenges, Keegan said. Some communities have public access channels they could use, but others would need to decide whether to create a new channel. There are also technical issues to be worked out, he said.
Peoria will be broadcasting the Pentagon Channel a few hours a day on available channels by the end of July or early August, Keegan said. He estimated it would be at least a year before the state reaches its goal of 24 hour-a-day broadcasting statewide.
Programming on the Pentagon Channel includes DoD news briefings, military news, interviews with top defense officials and information and features about the work of the armed forces.