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Fort Leonard Wood region announced as Great American Defense Community

by Erin Kaberline | Mar 19, 2016

Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri – March 10, 2016 – On Monday, February 29, the Fort Leonard Wood region was named one of ten 2016 Great American Defense Communities by the Association of Defense Communities (ADC) at the Installation Innovation Forum in Charleston, South Carolina.

The award will be presented on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. at the Association of Defense Communities 2016 National Summit on June 14. Missouri’s congressional delegation along with local and regional officials will be invited to officially receive the award.

The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP) nominated the Fort Leonard Wood region for the award. The nomination detailed the region’s background, community building and integration, support and collaboration, education and employment opportunities, and family support.

“The only challenge we had in nominating our region was limiting the information we submitted. The Fort Leonard Wood region has a strong connection with our installation through various organizations and formalized programs. It was a pleasure to showcase those in the nomination,” said SOP Executive Director Joe Driskill.

The Great American Defense Communities program was launched this year to acknowledge the unique contributions cities, counties and regions that host installations make to improve quality of life for service members, veterans and their families. 

For the first time the City of Waynesville mayor, Luge Hardman, and the City of Saint Robert mayor, George Lauritson, were able to attend the Installation Innovation Forum and be present for the announcement of the award.

“This was my first time to attend the Installation Innovation Forum and I was honored to be present for the announcement of the award. Not only did I enjoy meeting leaders from other military communities, I learned a great deal about the importance of military communities to our Soldiers, their Families, and the Army. We value Fort Leonard Wood, and our relationship with the installation is something I am incredibly proud of. It was an honor to represent the Fort Leonard Wood region at the forum in Charleston,” said Hardman.

This inaugural class of communities was selected by a panel of defense community advocates and experts from dozens of nominees based on the broad range of efforts they carry out on behalf of military personnel and their families, covering areas such as education, job opportunities, housing, family support during deployments and community appreciation.

“Our city and our region embodies what it means to be a great American defense community. To be officially recognized by national defense community experts signifies what we have known all along – we are an incredible military community. I am excited for our region and I look forward to all we will do in the future to continue on this path of greatness,” said Lauritson.

ADC Chief Executive Officer Tim Ford stated that the 10 award winners have set the bar for what it means to be a Great American Defense Community.

“All 10 of our inaugural class of honorees truly embodied the ideals this initiative was designed to celebrate — making host communities for our nation’s military installations ‘Great Places to Call Home,’” said ADC CEO Tim Ford.

The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership is building on the Fort Leonard Wood region’s strong past and preparing the region for a healthy, resilient future. We are a nonprofit organization working to bring all of the region’s stakeholders to the table to drive regional development and advocate for new or expanded military and federal missions, all as part of our efforts to strengthen the Fort Leonard Wood region.

Strengthening the Fort Leonard Wood region