Sen. Steve O’Ban, whose district includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord, has been a vocal advocate for supporting JBLM and the active-duty service members transitioning to civilian jobs, including job training, access to resources and other support upon separation. Force reductions could have significant effects on local economies as thousands leave military service and enter the civilian workforce.
At a news conference today Gov. Jay Inslee addressed issues regarding possible force reductions at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the effect those will have on South Puget Sound communities. State agencies have been working with communities to prepare them for the significant cuts to one of the largest employers in Pierce County. Since 2011 the base has cut 7,000 active-duty positions and Army leadership is considering reducing its forces by as many as 11,000 additional positions. O’Ban offered the following statement in light of the information offered by Inslee today.
“Our state needs to do all it can to keep JBLM and encourage the military to support the base. That’s why I have insisted that a transportation revenue package include the full $450 million needed to relieve congestion on I-5 to maintain easy access to and from JBLM by military personnel. The last thing we want is for military planners to reduce troop strength at the base out of concern the highway infrastructure is not adequate to support JBLM.
“In the event of any force reduction, I have been working with community leaders, agencies and other legislators to ensure that separating military personnel have access to the resources they need. This year I sponsored legislation that is incorporated into the Senate’s budget to provide incentives to small businesses to hire our nation’s heroes. In addition, the Senate has made access to education for veterans and their families a top priority and I know that other state agencies and the governor’s subcabinet on military downsizing are working vigorously to prepare for the smoothest transition possible.”