The bases are big business, from Fort Stewart to Hunter to Parris Island and the Naval Hospital. So everyone's concerned about the next round of base realignment and closure (BRAC), scheduled for 2005. Beaufort's chamber of commerce is ready to fight to keep their posts open, and Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC Dist. 2) is ready to help. He spoke to the chamber today.
The congressman didn't really say much about the BRAC process itself, but he did praise the community for its effort in this fight. Wilson pledged his support to members of the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce. The Congressman applauded their Military Enhancement Committee (MEC) members, along with state and community officials for their efforts in trying to save the Tri-Command.
They're bases he says have a lot to offer our national defense. "We've got the space here to grow, the community support," he said. "We've got a limited amount of encroachment."
And it's that kind of support from elected officials in Washington that members of the Military Enhancement Committee say could really helps their efforts. "Having these two gentlemen on board, knowing that the BRAC process is taking place, knowing what the ramifications are and having our ears, it's extremely important and does a lot in the long run for the community," said the committee's Wes Jarmulowicz.
With just a year before BRAC, Military Enhancement Committee members are trying to make sure the Department of Defense knows how important these bases are to Beaufort. If fact, they've written a letter to the secretary of defense, suggesting the community's contributions to the bases should be a higher priority on their list of BRAC requirements, because of what it could mean to our national defense.
"If they are happy with their families here and they go off and do their mission, that contributes to the quality of their performance," noted Jim Shufelt of the MEC.
Senator Lyndsay Grahm is also scheduled to come to Beaufort this week to show his support for the BRAC effort.