Washington, D.C., January 10- Bay County, Fla was announced as one of five communities across the country that was named to the 2019 class of Great American Defense Communities, the Association of Defense Communities (ADC) announced with USAA, the program’s official sponsor. The Great American Defense Communities program, now in its fourth year, recognizes military communities and regions that help improve the quality of life for service members, military families and veterans.
The 2019 class includes Bay County, Fla., home to Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City; Clovis, N.M., the community neighboring Cannon AFB; Greater Columbia Region, S.C., the region surrounding Fort Jackson; the Middle Georgia region, which is home to Robins AFB; and The North Country-Fort Drum region of New York.
“Defined by a mission of force and family, readiness and resilience, America’s defense communities are the foundation of our military’s strength,” ADC President Bill Parry said. “The communities we recognize through the Great American Defense Communities program represent the best examples of what communities can do to create great places for our military families to live and work. We congratulate these five communities and look forward to sharing your stories with the nation.”
Selected communities are recognized nationally for their exceptional commitment to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families as a model for all communities. Bay County’s application referenced the long history of support by many community organizations working together as one team. The Bay Defense Alliance, formed in 1993 includes leaders of the area Chambers of Commerce, 300-member Bay County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, Economic Development Alliance, Gulf Coast State College, Florida State University, the Board of County Commissioners and others dedicated to supporting Tyndall AFB and Naval Support Activity Panama City.
The application cited many examples of community support, which included trips across the country by 25 local community leaders to help prepare military members for relocation to Bay County in advance of a mission move and referenced the successful “Thanks-A-Million” campaign recently launched by leadership at Gulf Coast State College. Money raised by the campaign is used to help military members and their families attend college by covering costs not included on available federal programs. The campaign reached the million dollar mark so quickly the campaign had to double the goal. Mr. Bill Cramer, Campaign Chairman, noted, “it’s amazing to me that a small amount of money at the right time in someone’s life can make all the difference and to be able to be there and fill that gap at the right time with the right amount of money is just a blessing.”
Carol Roberts, President and CEO of the Bay County Chamber began her career there in 1977 and was among the first to learn of the GADC selection; “We are excited and very proud that Bay County has been selected as a Great American Defense Community and look forward to celebrating with so many people who are truly dedicated to our military community and so richly deserve this honor.”
Defense communities, regions which are home to active military installations, were eligible to apply for the 2019 class of Great American Defense Communities. This year’s selected communities will be honored throughout the year, including at the Defense Communities National Summit in Washington, D.C., in June 2019.
About Great American Defense Communities
The Great American Defense Communities program was launched in 2015 in association with the Defense Communities Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The inaugural class, honored in 2016, included Colorado Springs, Colo.; the Dayton, Ohio, region; the Eglin-Hurlburt, Fla., community; the Flint Hills, Kan., region; the Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., region; Grand Forks, N.D.; Sound, Wash. The 2017 class included the Alamo – San Antonio, Texas, region; the Charleston, S.c., region; Christian Co., Ky.; the Fort Hood – Central Texas region; Goldsboro, N.C.; the Hampton Roads, Va., region; Sierra Vista, Ariz.; the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments; and West Valley Partners in Arizona.
ADC builds resilient communities that support America’s military. We are the connection point for leaders from communities, states, the military and industry on community-military issues and installation management to enhance knowledge, information sharing and best practices. With nearly 300 communities, states, regions, and affiliated industry organizations, ADC represents every major defense community/state in the nation. For more information, visit defensecommunities.org and follow us on Twitter (@defensecomm) or Facebook.
The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to more than 12.7 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAAj, or visit usaa.com.