Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has been a fierce advocate for Fort Polk, helping it obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in military construction projects, fighting for it to assume a larger role for the Army, and ensuring its facilities support the needs of military families.
Since 2005, Landrieu has helped invest $1 billion in Polk, located in west central Louisiana. Over the last two years, the three-term senator has secured nearly $100 million for construction projects at the post, including $23 million for a brigade complex, $9.2 million for a fire station and $6.1 million for the child care facility. She also secured $11 million for housing improvements. Working with community leaders, Landrieu raised $20 million, including $18.3 million from the federal government, to construct an elementary school to serve military children.
The senator also obtained $27 million to allow Polk to acquire an additional 46,000 acres for additional training needs, making it the only Army post experiencing growth. Last year, Landrieu and local leaders prevented Polk from losing 5,300 troops due to the Army downsizing its force by 80,000 troops.
Educating the children of military families has been another of Landrieu’s signature issues. She has worked to ensure that all of Louisiana’s installations receive the maximum amount of federal funding to accommodate military students on and off post. Previously, Landrieu worked with the leadership of Barksdale Air Force Base to form the Barksdale PTA and pushed the Justice Department to allow free school choice for that base’s high school students.
She also backed an effort to extend the number of years bases closed during BRAC 2005 can be designated a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and loosen the rules requiring a share of employees of designated firms to reside in a HUBZone.
For her efforts to improve the military value of Fort Polk and support its military families, “Military Mary” this year earned one of ADC’s Congressional Leadership Awards. Award winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill next month during the Defense Communities National Summit.