Mo. House committee hears community concerns on FLW job cuts
A standing-room only crowd of community members filled St. Robert the Hampton Inn Monday to show support for Fort Leonard Wood to a Missouri legislative committee, during a time where the future of Fort Leonard Wood is entirely uncertain.
The Interim Committee on Missouri Military Impact and Sustainability hosted a meeting in St. Robert explore the role of the military as a part of the community fabric surrounding Fort Leonard Wood.
More than 20 local leaders including mayors, school superintendents, business leaders, pastors, health care professionals and veterans testified in support of Fort Leonard Wood, citing the military base’s contribution to the area. The witnesses warned the committee of the possible detrimental impact of losing the military population.
Missouri State Representative Steve Lynch, member of the Interim Committee on Missouri Military Impact and Sustainability, said he was proud to witness the overwhelming support for Fort Leonard Wood from Pulaski County and the surrounding area during the interim committee hearing.
“Fort Leonard Wood is such an important key stone in our area,” Lynch said. “Any reduction to the military base personnel would have a devastating impact on the local area. I am so proud to see the people of this area come out in such large numbers to testify in support for Fort Leonard Wood.
They are fully aware of how closely interrelated the local communities and Fort Leonard Wood are, and the seriousness of possible job loss in this area.”
Possible job loss
Fort Leonard Wood could lose 5,400 jobs in the next few years, but that decision is not final.
Until Aug. 25, the public has the opportunity to provide feedback on the 2014 U.S. Army Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) that found these job cuts would have no significant impact on the region.
Local organizations, city governments, and individuals are asking for the public to submit comments in regards to the impact of Fort Leonard Wood on its surrounding areas.
In June 2014, the U.S. Army announced that current budgetary projects are forcing additional job cuts. These cuts are in addition to to the 1,200 Fort Leonard Wood positions lost earlier this year.
The U.S. Army now plans to reduce its forces to 420,000 soldiers, assessing the reduction of an additional 70,000 soldiers by 2020. Nearly all Army installations will be affected in some way by additional reductions.
This could mean that in 2020, only 3,761 permanent party soldier and Army civilian positions would be left on Fort Leonard Wood. In 2011, 9,161 permanent party soldier and Army civilians were on the post.
Sustainable Ozarks Partnertship estimates that these cuts would cause a significant economic impact on Pulaski, Phelps, Laclede and Texas counties.
Public comments can be submitted directly to the Army using the SOP website: www.sustainableozarks.org. The official Army address for public comments and example letters pertaining to Fort Leonard Wood can also be found on the SOP website. Community members can also send email comments directly to the Army using the following email address: email@example.com.