From 1990-91, the 24th Infantry Division, assigned to Fort Stewart/HAAF prior to 3rd ID, was called in its entirety to deploy during the Gulf War. During that time Liberty County, without the presence of the soldiers, experienced an economic hardship that it barely survived.
While today we certainly face different circumstances, our community could see hardship again if our federal government and legislative and executive branches do not agree on a way of handling sequestration.
The 2011 Budget Control Act requires the Pentagon’s budget be reduced starting Jan. 2, 2013, using a process known as sequestration. If sequestration is not stopped, the law requires the Department of Defense to cut $54.7 billion annually during the next 10 years. This is in addition to the $487 billion the DoD already plans to cut during the next 10 years. As for all the funds that are appropriated for fiscal year 2013, as well as previous years that are not committed to contracts by Jan. 2 and would be subject to sequestration, or reduced, in language we all understand.
A study conducted at George Mason University determined the total job loss from DoD cuts for Georgia alone would be 27,609 jobs. Out of the eight military bases in Georgia, Fort Stewart has 26.1 percent of the total base population. Depending on how the cut is distributed over the eight installations, the Fort Stewart region would lose from 3,500 to more than 7,000 jobs.
Our community barely survived the economic impact from the Gulf War. Losing the projected amount of jobs would be detrimental, maybe catastrophic, to our region.
We need to make our concerns known to Rep. Jack Kingston (Baxley Field Office, 912-367-7403) and Sens. Saxby Chambliss (South Georgia Field Office, 229-985-2112) and Johnny Isakson (770-818-1493), so please make your voice heard.
The Southeast Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter will host a Chamber Progress Through People Luncheon on Nov. 15 with guest speaker Hinesvillle Mayor James Thomas and state Sen. Tommie Williams, who will tell us in plain terms what sequestration really means.
Cost to attend is $15. To RSVP for the luncheon, please call 368-4445.
Paul Andreshak is executive director of the Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter.