Please note: The press conference scheduled for 5:15 Tuesday, July 8, in DeRidder, La. at the Civic Center is still scheduled to take place.
LEESVILLE-In a press conference this morning, Fort Polk Progress, in conjunction with the City of Leesville, issued a call to action to elected officials and residents throughout Louisiana and East Texas.
Leesville Mayor Rick Allen welcomed the crowd and introduced Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese.
"Last year, the City of Leesville together with our partners from neighboring cities throughout the region pulled together in a very big way to help save Fort Polk," said Mayor Allen. "This year, Fort Polk is again being threatened, this time, with a loss of 6,500 troops."
Reese explained that the situation this year is more dire and will require more effort to overcome than last year's, with a draw down that is unprecedented in length of time and scope.
"Fort Polk Progress will challenge every fact and figure and provide a very comprehensive and formal reply,'' he said, referring to the Department of the Army's Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment released June 26.
Reese also said that while the Joint Readiness Training Center is relatively safe from cuts, any draw down of troops will create reverberations and impact all of the services offered at Fort Polk, from the hospital to the Post Exchange.
"Last year, for the first time, we changed the perception of Fort Polk by the Army," he added, referring to the spectacular outpouring by the community during the commenting period and at the listening session. "Nothing matters if the public doesn't respond."
Reese said that Fort Polk Progress would reinforce its facts figures and numbers with the public's response, which he hopes will be dramatically larger than last year's.
He invited the audience to sign form letters and sign the petition at the end of the press conference, and encouraged them to share the information with their friends and neighbors.
"This is not an exercise," said Jon Grafton, executive director of England Air Park. "This is as serious as it gets. The only question is which base will survive and which won't."
From now until August 25, individuals have an opportunity to impact the Army's decision in a positive way by sending in their comments in support of growth at Fort Polk.
Fort Polk Progress encourages everyone to visit www.fortpolkprogress.com, click on the "Click Here to Save Fort Polk" button and follow the steps provided there for responding to the Department of the Army.
Fort Polk Progress urges elected officials to share the information with their constituents and other groups, suggesting that they arrange drop-off points for signed letters that can be mailed in sets periodically throughout the commenting period.
In addition, Fort Polk Progress strongly recommends that elected officials write their own letters, issue proclamations and/or pass resolutions in support of growth at Fort Polk and to send these documents as part of the collected comments.
Comments about force structure at Fort Polk should be sent via email to: