With Fort Stewart looking to welcome a number of new and returning soldiers over the next several months, Deputy to the Garrison Commander Paul Andreshak recently gave an update on what the numbers are looking like for troop returns, and what that might mean for the local housing market.
The update came earlier this month at a Home Builders Association meeting on Dec. 5. Andreshak explained that he is like a "city manager" for Fort Stewart and the Hunter Army Airfield.
"Right now, we’re in the running for one of the six brigade combat teams but I can’t tell you that we’ve got one today. The Army Force Generation Conference hasn’t been held yet," Andreshak said. "But to put it in perspective, we’ve done all the planning."
While Andreshak said Fort Stewart can’t possibly house the brigade of 3,500-4,000 troops, the numbers could be good for the local community – but what he knows today could change tomorrow.
"Truth changes," he stressed. "We’re constantly going through a ‘what-if’ drill; we’re constantly going through a situation of, ‘what’s the government going to do tomorrow.’"
Andreshak continued with some of the estimated numbers:
Small units from the 3rd Infantry will be coming back in February with a couple hundred troops; the 1st Brigade Combat Team of approximately 3,500 soldiers will start arriving in April; and Gen. Lynch and 2,500 to 3,000 of his soldiers should be coming back in June.
Owen Thayer of Coastal Atlantic Mortgage said the information at the meeting gave those who work in the real estate business some insight into the future influx of personnel.
"Even though those plans are subject to change, it still indicates that our local area is growing, and will continue to grow, based on our military installation. With that, we need to always include and be mindful that any planning that is done encompasses that particular aspect of our community," he said. "It’s a great benefit for our area and we need to work hand-in-hand with the military to ensure that compatibility remains in the forefront of everybody’s mind."
Andreshak said units have a stabilized period of about 60 days when they first return. In that time, some soldiers and their families will be moving while others arrive.
"You can use those dates and approximate numbers I’ve given you for planning purposes, but be aware there’s going to be a window of time with turbulence – with some soldiers wanting to sell and others coming in to buy," he said, noting that normal rotation is about one-third of a unit.
Andreshak added that the base has been surprised by the numbers of families who have stayed this year, even after a family member was deployed.
"The last time around, I’m thinking on post we were at about 75 percent, it went down that far. And now, we’ve stayed at about 95-96 percent occupancy rate on post," he said. "The housing has changed; not only on- but also off-post. We’ve offered a lot more services. Plus, families want stability as far as their children and schools go, and as much as we can accommodate that and provide them with activities on post, we’ve found we can keep them more stable and not wanting to leave."
To find more information, visit the Fort Stewart web site at www.stewart.army.mil.