Listening Session draws community together Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 May 2013
By Dawn Arden
Assistant editor
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More than 1,200 individuals from Fort Leonard Wood and the surrounding communities came together April 30 in an overwhelming show of support for the military.

The listening session, which was held in Nutter Field House on Fort Leonard Wood, was one of 30 such sessions being conducted Army-wide in response to the force reductions.

Giving community members a chance to voice their concerns while offering up views on what makes their community and relationship with the military unique was what officials set out to accomplish. Citizens were encouraged to address the value Fort Leonard Wood has added to the area in the past years and into the future.

“We are very proud of this installation, it has come a long way from when my father did his basic training here back in the 1950s,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri’s 4th Congressional District. “Fort Leonard Wood of 2013 is a thriving and prosperous installation and has evolved from a small basic training post from years ago to a premiere Army Center of Excellence that trains between 80 to 90,000 Soldiers each year.”

Along with the briefings given by select community leaders was the showing of the command video which showcased what the fort has to offer and stressing points such as Fort Leonard Wood being named third on Forbes’ list of  “Fastest Growing Small Towns in America” and “overwhelmingly positive community relationships and support,” which was demonstrated by the attendance.

 “Fort Leonard Wood supports about 36,400 direct and indirect jobs in Missouri. We’re not just about 10,000 permanent party on Fort Leonard Wood; there are people we see on a daily basis and they’re the core and heart of Fort Leonard Wood,” said Joe Driskill, Sustainable Ozarks Partnership representative.  

“The Fort Leonard Wood region is a great place for the Army to maintain and expand its presence — we not only want to keep what we have, we want more, because we think we can do it here and we think they (community) can support it,” Driskill said.

It was stressed what a lasting effect having the military in the area has had on individuals and the surrounding communities in general.

“Missouri stands for Fort Leonard Wood,” said State Rep. Steven Lynch. “Because the Army came here, I’m a better man — our communities are better communities because of it. Because we have rubbed shoulders with America’s finest.”

Community members were urged to write down their concerns on the comment cards provided or they could voice their concerns to one of the individuals standing by  to log them into the system. Either way, Brig. Gen. Mark Inch, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, assured all in attendance that their concerns and comments would be included in the package being sent forward.

“We’re going to take all the information that we have assembled from these sessions and we’re going to take it through the process, then we’ll figure out how we’re going to best take out (a structure) while still maintaining the best readiness that we can,” said Lt. Col. Patricia Tilson, U.S. Army Forces Command G-3.

The information gathered during the listening session was sent forward to be a part of the Army 2020 Force Restructure decision.

It was stressed throughout the evening that the Army has not made any decisions at this time and is waiting to gather information from all communities concerned before making any decisions.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 May 2013 )