Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hail Mary and pass the ammunition

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 12:45 PM

click to enlarge Denny Cripps, former Carson deputy commander, was among those who today urged the public to send a postcard or an email - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Denny Cripps, former Carson deputy commander, was among those who today urged the public to send a postcard or an email

Business and community leaders urgently called a news conference for this morning at the Regional Business Alliance office downtown to urge the media to broadcast the need for support for Fort Carson.

It seems like a Hail Mary effort, considering the deadline for public comment on an environmental study of Army bases across the country is only one week away, Aug. 25. The study will be the basis for possible dramatic cuts in personnel. Seems that the RBA and community leaders have only recently awakened to the fact that it helps to have community support.

So they want everyone — thousands, they hope — to send a postcard to the Army Environmental Command saying how much they love Fort Carson and want it to go untouched by cuts. (The current proposal calls for reducing Carson's strength by 16,000 of its 26,000 soldiers under the 2020 force structure realignment.)

Asked why they're only asking for public support at the last minute, officials said their earlier effort focused on the business community. "But that's not enough," said Steve Dant, the RBA's Military Affairs Council chair who's also the president and CEO of Fox21 News. "It has to be a grassroots effort. We don't need hundreds of responses here. We need thousands."

Seems the local advocates only recently discovered that other communities across the nation have mounted massive citizen mail-in campaigns. While some decisions will be made by commanders and others by Congress, Dant said the Army "has specifically asked for, wants to hear from the community."

"They're accepting cards from around the country, and we're behind in that effort," Dant said. "I will admit to you the effort overall has fallen short; hence, the reason for this meeting here this morning. We're a little late, but we're not too late."

City Councilor Merv Bennett added his two cents, saying, "We need to focus on what's important now. This isn't just an important issue. This is a critical issue."

RBA Chief Defense Industry Officer Andy Merritt noted that should Carson lose those 16,000 soldiers, the local economy would take a $1 billion annual hit.

If you want to help, get a postcard that contains a pre-printed message and the address to mail it to from one of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Offices, or at the RBA office at 102 S. Tejon St. Suite 430. Send comments via email to usarmy.jbsa.aec.nepa@mail.mil.

Or send your own letter to this address:
U.S. Army Environmental Command
ATTN: SPEA Public Comments
2450 Connell Road (Building 2264)
Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664

Here's the pre-printed message on the postcard:
Dear Army Leaders, I am proud that the Pikes Peak region is home to the brave men and women stationed at Fort Carson. Their sacrifices keep our country FREE.I want you to know that this community is committed to supporting them and their families in keeping Fort Carson the best assignment in the US Army.I hope that the Army recognizes the value of Fort Carson and the surrounding communities and keeps a strong presence here.Thank you for your service to our country!
The front of the card:
click to enlarge postcard-keep_carson_strong_final_page_1.jpg

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