SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Coastal Georgia military community is celebrating after being recognized for a national award.
This award however wasn’t for the military installations themselves but for the communities that surround and support them.
“Coastal Georgia is one of five communities across the nation to be named 2021 Class of Great American Defense Communities,” said Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown at a small celebration Wednesday.
While they are one of five communities being recognized, they’re also one of a kind.
“It is an extreme honor to be the only army installation recognized as the Great American Defense Community Award,” said Garrison Commander Col. Bryan Logan.
An award highlighting the effort of those surrounding Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
“Really it’s about recognizing. Recognizing all the hard work are sacrifice of those civilians and employees just outside our gates and it’s based on community,” said Col. Logan.
A community that was desirable long before this award.
“This is a place military families want to live. They want to be part and we are part of your community,” Col. Logan says.
A big part. In fact, Coastal Georgia’s Military Family contributes roughly $4.9 billion annually to local economies.
“You got to into a restaurant any day of the week, you’ll see more people in uniform than not in uniform. That’s a big deal. I mean Fort Stewart is big for our community and we want to be big for them too,” said Mayor Brown.
With Wednesday’s honor, they might finally feel as if they’ve found a way to say thank you.
“You know, it kind of goes down into my stomach to say, ‘hey, we worked at this for many years to be a good host community,’” said Mayor Brown.
The Great American Defense Communities program is in it’s sixth year.
They recognize the role communities and regions with active installations in the U.S. play in supporting service members and families.
Communities are chosen through a competitive nomination process based on community building and integration, support and collaboration, educational and employment opportunities and family support.
This year they also added diversity and inclusion initiatives and COVID-19 programs.
The other winning communities include, Altus, OK; Everett, WS; Great Falls, MN; and the NAS Pensacola & NAS Whiting Field Community.