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I am writing in response to the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) that is part of the Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment in regards to the specific region surrounding Fort Campbell, KY.
The SPEA states that a loss of 16,000 soldiers would have a significant impact, however I beg to differ. It would be catastrophic. This region depends on Fort Campbell as our primary economic driver and employer with an annual $4.7 billion impact. While the SPEA did take into account the effect on Trigg and Christian Counties it did not take into account other counties that will be affected in this drawdown. This ripple effect will reach other Kentucky counties such as Caldwell, Hopkins and Todd just to name a few.
There are many items analyzed in the SPEA including the effect that this will have on funding for public school systems and housing but other factors that are involved include higher education, business and retail, church attendance and a depletion of workforce. Our local Hopkinsville Community College has 41% military related enrollment. If half of that were to disappear that is over 700 students and would have a catastrophic effect on the college. They also support our soldiers with a transition program to assist them in writing resumes and preparing them for trying to find a civilian job. Without the enrollment in the school we will see a decrease in several of these programs that help the soldiers and our community.
This area is an ideal place to station soldiers because of our low cost of living and exceptional quality of life. We provide a variety of unique services to our veterans and active duty soldiers. We have many military appreciation events such as discounted days at our local water park in which attendance reaches over 2000 soldiers and family members. We also have a local Homeless Veterans Shelter that serves hundreds of individuals annually. We have also taken huge strides in ensuring that our veterans and active duty soldiers are well taken care of in the justice system. Tennessee and Kentucky have both implemented a Veteran’s Treatment Court and have had tremendous success thus far. Our community is dedicated to our soldiers and will continue to provide support in every avenue possible. We know that these things have a positive impact on our soldiers and families because Fort Campbell has the highest re-enlistment rating in the army (72%).
In 2013, the Christian County Chamber of Commerce received the US Chamber’s Chamber of Valor award by illustrating dedication to finding employment for the soldiers and spouses of Fort Campbell and encouraging our local businesses to hire veterans and spouses.
In conclusion, the SPEA has done the research and knows that if the army is trying to maximize cost efficiency while still maintaining the highest level of training readiness Fort Campbell checks all the blocks. There is no sector that will be untouched and will suffer tremendous loss if these individuals are taken from our area as well as denying soldiers all of the benefits of living in this region. Please take all of these things into consideration when making your final decision and thank you for your time.