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Protecting Alabama’s Military Assets

Kay Ivey

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by Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey
 
Governor Bentley recently signed two military-focused bills giving Alabama a competitive edge in the Base Realignment and Closure process.  HB 338 by Rep. Paul Lee allows military members and veterans to receive academic and professional licensure credit for relevant skills acquired in the military, making the transition from service to the civilian workforce smoother.  The Governor also signed HB 424 by Rep. Barry Moore which extends in-state tuition fees for active service members, their spouses, and dependents located in Alabama under orders.
 
The bills were drafted and supported by the Military Stability Commission, and as Chair of the Commission, I strongly supported the legislation.  It is unclear when BRAC may come up again, but the process could begin as soon as 2015 or 2016.  Many factors are taken into account during the BRAC decision process, and anything we can do to reinforce Alabama’s role as a good host to military installations, families, and veterans strengthens our defense against dramatic changes.
 
The military is a significant economic engine in Alabama.  Our State is home to more than 11,900 active duty members, 22,099 reserve and National Guard personnel, more than 420,000 veterans, and four major military installations: Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ft. Rucker in Dale County, and Anniston Army Depot.  The total statewide economic impact of the four major installations, alone, is $12 billion. That’s equivalent to the economic impact of three Hyundai plants.
 
We value the contributions of all business and industry, big and small, to our State’s economy, but these eye-opening numbers impress upon us the importance of the mission to protect our military resources from reduction as a result of sequestration and BRAC.  The effects could be devastating for parts of the State, especially in areas where the military is the primary economic driver.  The Military Stability Commission and I will continue to fight for the military because it has fought for us.
 
And as we celebrate Independence Day, we remember that. We celebrate the birth of our free Nation and recognize the enduring fight to maintain our freedom.  Our military men and women offer tremendous service and make great sacrifices as we live in a time of persistent conflict.  As President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.”  Let us renew our commitment to strengthening and securing our military assets and people, for the sake of all Alabamians, especially our children. 
 

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