BATON ROUGE-Members of Fort Polk Progress, accompanied by Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana Army National, elicited a strong response from members of the Louisiana House of Representatives Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs Tuesday after providing testimony concerning Fort Polk and possible troop reductions at the base.
The committee heard testimony from Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese, as well as Maj. Gen. Curtis and others that outlined the full impact of Fort Polk on the State of Louisiana, including the negative economic impact to the state if Fort Polk were to lose 5,300 troops, which is one of three alternatives the Army is considering where the base is concerned.
The committee responded by sending a letter of comment to the Department of the Army in support of growing Fort Polk.
Economist Loren Scott, hired by the Louisiana Economic Development, has determined, Reese told lawmakers, that a loss of 5,300 troops at Fort Polk would result in:
• an annual loss to the State treasury of $24,332,000.00 • an annual loss in local government revenue of $7,110,200.00 • an annual loss of sales totaling $401,200,000.00 • an annual loss of income totaling $347,600,000.00 • a loss of jobs totaling 8,661 • a loss in population totaling 20,786
In response, the committee sent its own letter of comment to the Department of the Army, outlining the State of Louisiana’s recent, ongoing and significant investment into communities around Fort Polk in an effort to improve quality of life for soldiers.
“In recent years, the State of Louisiana has made significant investments on behalf of our military partners, in particular Fort Polk and its surrounding communities,” according to the letter from the committee. “Capitalizing on Fort Polk’s inherent advantages as a premier training installation, these investments have created a unique opportunity for the base to grow, which is why we urge the Department of the Army to choose Fort Polk as a base that would receive more troops, rather than see a troop reduction.”
The Louisiana House of Representatives Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs is chaired by Nicholas “Nick” Lorusso (New Orleans).
Those who provided testimony were:
Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, Louisiana Army National Guard Michael Reese, Chairman Fort Polk Progress Avon Knowlton, Secretray/Treasurer Fort Polk Progress, and Southwest Alliance Ron Roberts, Mayor City of DeRidder Robert Rose, Mayor City of Leesville Clarence Beebe, Mayor Town of Hornbeck Deborah Randolph, Executive Director of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Jim Tuck, President Vernon Parish Police Jury Leroy Cooley
For a complete list of the members of the Special Committee on Military and Veterans, a copy of the letter the committee sent to the Department of the Army, and a video of the testimony please visit www.leesvillela.gov.
The commenting period on The Department of the Army’s pending decision concerning force structure realignment at Fort Polk ends at midnight on March 21.