This week, the Chamber led a tri-county delegation of elected, civic and business leaders to Washington D.C. Support for national defense and the military installations in the Charleston region was the sole focus.
Military support is mission critical for the Chamber because the armed services have a $10.8 billion impact on our region. We’re home to more than 13,000 uniformed service members and nearly 5,000 Department of Defense civilians. It’s also mission critical because it’s the right thing to do. The Charleston region is one of only 27 places nationwide to earn distinction as a Great American Defense Community, precisely because we’re a community that rallies around our men and women in uniform.
The group had a jam-packed 36 hours including meetings on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and at Department of Homeland Security. Highlights included meetings with Senator Graham and Congressman Cunningham, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, and Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Capability, Rear Admiral Michael Ryan.
There were a lot of good vibes in our meetings. Charleston embraces its service members and service members love the Charleston region. Top takeaways include:
- Funding Certainty – increasing global threats demand a prepared, modern military. Force readiness and modernization are damaged when politics delay sufficient budgets. Military members need our voice advocating for sufficient and timely defense authorization and appropriation.
- Military Family Support – 17 straight years of overseas deployment and frequent moves put strain on military families. Professional credentialing delays that hurt military spouse employment just make things more difficult. Military members need local allies to lend a hand and cut red tape.
- Education – quality of life matters as much for military employees as private sector employees. Quality education is the most important quality of life factor for military families. A new DOD formula will add empirical education system performance measures into the base decision equation.
We can never take our region’s military for granted. Visits like this week’s ensure that we have the best information and that decision makers know our support.
Thanks to our traveling delegation:
- Jeff Borowy, Chief Operating Officer, Charleston County School District
- Jake Broom, City Administrator, City of Goose Creek
- David Chinnis, Vice Chairman, Dorchester County
- Johnny Cribb, Supervisor, Berkeley County
- Charlie Farrell, Executive Director, S.C. Military Base Task Force
- Brent Jonas, Director of Stakeholder Relations, Charleston Regional Development Alliance
- Kenny Skipper, Mayor Pro Tem, City of North Charleston