Fort Rucker and our economic future need you | Columnists


As our nation just celebrated its 246th birthday on July 4, the importance of thanking and celebrating our military, our women and our families is more important than ever. With an ever-changing global society and challenges from all parts of the world, the strength, resilience and courage of our country’s soldiers is remarkable. Hundreds of millions of Americans sleep peacefully at night because hundreds of thousands of soldiers stand guard at the wall of freedom. Here in southeast Alabama, that wall is Fort Rucker, Alabama, the US Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Army Aviation Headquarters!

Judge Val McGee is the author of a book called The Origins of Fort Rucker. His book tells the story of the birth of Fort Rucker and the impact Fort Rucker had on our region. In his epilogue, Judge McGee wrote: “Would (one) conclude that the loss of farms and property of hundreds of citizens was justified by the service rendered to the nation and the benefits gleaned by the natives of Wiregrass? Would (one) feel a wave of pride looking at the beautiful new buildings and the dozens of airstrips, large and small, dotting the hills… and all over the Wiregrass? Would one conclude that this astonishing installation, dominating the terrain and economic activity for miles around, was a worthy accomplishment…? The answer to these rhetorical questions would almost certainly be yes.

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It is individuals like Judge McGee who reflect the spirit, service and sacrifice of this base and why it has been stated, “As long as there is military aviation, Fort Rucker will be needed by the United States military. “.

As Civilian Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, I am humbled and honored to champion and tell the story of the United States military and its impact on the Wiregrass region. Fort Rucker is the heart of the Wiregrass economy, providing 12-14% of total employment and estimated retail sales of over $250 million with an estimated value added impact of nearly $1.7 billion of dollars.

As everyone knows, Fort Rucker is the training ground for Army helicopter pilots. However, the US military is developing a new flight platform, the Future Vertical Lift, which will eventually replace current formations. Community support will be a factor when the US Army chooses its Future Vertical Lift training bases.

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is the premier national community support organization for Army bases. The AUSA Fort Rucker Wiregrass Chapter is leading a membership campaign to add 250 new local businesses to join by October 1, when we will be advocating for Fort Rucker this fall at the Pentagon. These additional community business memberships will clearly demonstrate Wiregrass’ support of Fort Rucker and make this chapter the largest in the world when it comes to community partners!

If your business is interested in building the future of Fort Rucker and our strong local economy, please contact the Fort Rucker Wiregrass Chapter of AUSA, Tanya Hatley at (931) 980-9639 [email protected] Annual membership is $175.

Wiregrass loves the US military and the men and women who serve. Fort Rucker is who we are. It has helped propel our region onto the international economic and military scene. This must be maintained and reinforced, and I know that each of you is ready to do your part.

General George Patton said it best: “…Every man in this army plays a vital role…Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain.

Part of this great chain is a community that stands by them, supports them, and loves them. Join me and others in becoming a member of the AUSA Fort Rucker Wiregrass Chapter. Let’s keep that heartbeat strong and active.

Mike Schmitz is the founder and owner of Mike Schmitz Automotive Group and is the Civilian Assistant to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama.

Contact: [email protected]


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