Military and civilian leaders from across the south Puget Sound met Jan. 12 at the Eagle’s Pride Golf Course on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to discuss the impacts the base has on the surrounding communities.
JBLM is the largest military installation on the western seaboard and home to more than 40,000 service members and their families.
“We cannot be a military apart,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, I Corps commanding general. “We cannot be a military that are behind our gates on six exits on I-5 — therefore, we stay connected.”
Throughout the event, community representatives and key leaders of JBLM spoke on the impact the military presence has on the South Sound, as well as the importance of positive military-community relations.
“We, as a military, have to stay connected to the people we serve,” Lanza said.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is one of the highest-ranked military installations where Soldiers retire, Lanza said to the attendees. He reminded the councilmen and representatives that the retirees become the neighbors and committee participants, which is why good relations are so important.
“We have so many people in our community who are either active (service members), they’re related to active (service members) or they retired out (of the military) and stayed local,” said JW Foster, Yelm city councilman. “Our community is more than half related to the military, so it’s very important to us to see what they need.”
Representatives talked about various subjects concerning both the military and civilian communities. Surveys on the economy, education system, workforce and traffic were displayed and discussed. Joint land use was also a topic of the event.
The common theme among all speakers was not just the importance the military community has on the surrounding civilian area, but equally as important was the support the surrounding cities and towns have for JBLM.