Washington — Defense communities and their leaders take enormous pride in hosting and partnering with military installations, service members, military families and veterans. They also work hard to preserve the legacy and sustain economic growth when the mission or force structure at a local base changes.
These communities, installations and leaders were represented among the recipients of the 2015 Defense Community Awards, who were honored during a special ceremony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, the final day of the 2015 Defense Communities National Summit.
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) honored Louisiana and Fort Polk Progress, which won the Community Excellence Award for its long record of support for the Army and Fort Polk.
“The state has spent over $25 million to fund the Fort Polk regional growth management plan, which has promoted new housing, retail and dining options for soldiers and their families,” Fleming said. “Fort Polk Progress has led a highly successful education initiative to support the children of soldiers stationed in our community.”
Fleming was one of 16 federal lawmakers who attended the breakfast ceremony, along with more than 100 ADC members, Summit attendees and defense community supporters.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) saluted Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Steve Levesque for converting Naval Air Station Brunswick into Brunswick Landing, a highly successful business hub. His work won him ADC’s Community Leadership Award.
“Steve and his board started at ground zero, but they’ve brought … more than $150 million in private sector investment and 600 new jobs to the state,” Collins said, standing alongside the entire Maine congressional delegation, who appeared at the ceremony together to honor Levesque.
Congressional Leadership awards were presented to Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to honor their outstanding support for military bases and communities in their states. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) also were honored with this year’s Congressional Leadership Award but accepted the awards at other times.
Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr., installation commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., received the Military Leadership Award for his extensive efforts to help separating military personnel transition to civilian careers. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) presented the award to Hodges, calling him “a soldier’s soldier.”
Other award winners include:
- 96th Test Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. — Installation Excellence Award
- The Dayton Development Coalition in partnership with the state of Ohio — Community Excellence Award
- March Joint Powers Authority, Riverside, Calif. — Base Redevelopment Excellence Award
Other members of Congress who attended the ceremony include:
- Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.)
- Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.)
- Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.)
- Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
- Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.)
- Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)
- Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)
- Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
- Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine)
- Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio)