A top priority resulting from the Savannah Area Chamber’s 2017 strategic plan was continued advocacy for the military in our area. To expand these efforts, the Savannah Chamber has worked with partners in Chatham and Liberty counties to form the Coastal Military Affairs Coalition. The Coalition traveled to Washington, D.C. on March 13 and 14 and included Savannah Chamber Military Affairs Council Chairman Bill Cathcart, Savannah Chamber Community Relations Director Drew Hunt, Savannah and Hinesville Mayors and City Managers and the Liberty County Commission Chairman. The group joined together to proactively represent assets and advocate for continued presence of the military in our coastal region through meetings with several representatives on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.
Key requests from the coalition included attainment of another armored brigade combat team, construction of new aviation hangars and an Apache attack battalion at Hunter Army Airfield and interest in housing a new Security Forces Assistance Brigade (SFAB). These requests were shared with Congressional leaders and Department of Defense officials including Sen. Johnny Isakson; Sen. David Perdue; Rep. Austin Scott; Rep. Buddy Carter; Rep. Jody Hice; Mr. Randall Robinson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installation Energy and Environment; General James McConville, Army Vice Chief of Staff; Lieutenant General Mike Murray, Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-8 and former 3ID Commander; and Brigadier General Brian Mennes, Director of Force Management, Army Assistant Chief of Staff G-3/5/7.
In addition, the group was able to meet with Deputy Director of the Army’s soldier transition program, Colonel Thomas Anderson. Known as the Soldier for Life Program, this initiative assists soldiers transitioning out of the Army by preparing them for civilian life and connecting them with viable career opportunities, made possible through partnerships with businesses around the country. With workforce development being another top priority to come from the Savannah Chamber’s strategic plan, we will work to deepen our connectivity with local military transition programs like Soldier for Life.
These visits are an example of the Savannah Area Chamber’s efforts to help preserve our local military value, which accounts for an economic impact of approximately $5 billion, thousands of jobs and families that contribute to our community’s quality of life.