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West Valley recognized for support of Luke AFB
Submitted by Emily Toepfer on Wed, 03/15/2017 - 12:00am
Region named ‘Great American Defense Community’
Luke Air Force Base officials have long touted the support of the West Valley as one of the base’s biggest assets, and now that partnership is being recognized on a national level.
The West Valley region was recently named a “Great American Defense Community” by the Association of Defense Communities, a nonprofit that represents areas with a significant military presence.
The program was launched last year to acknowledge the unique contributions cities, counties and regions make to improve the quality of life for service members, veterans and their families.
Seven other communities throughout the nation were awarded the designation.
They were each selected by a panel of defense community advocates and experts from dozens of nominees based on the broad range of efforts they carry out on behalf of military personnel and their families, such as education, job opportunities, housing, family support during deployments and community appreciation.
The West Valley is home to about 100,000 active-duty military and civilian personnel who are deployed or working at Luke Air Force Base, their families and veterans dependent on important base resources and services.
“Luke enjoys unmatched community support,” said Kiley Dougherty, a base spokeswoman. “We cannot thank Luke’s neighbors throughout the Valley enough for letting us be part of the community, not just in the community. Their support for our mission and the men and women of Luke Air Force Base has been second-to-none.”
The West Valley Partners coalition, composed of elected officials from Avondale, Buckeye, El Mirage, Gila Bend, Glendale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Maricopa County, Peoria, Phoenix, Surprise, Tolleson, Wickenburg and Youngtown, submitted the nomination on behalf of the West Valley region.
It highlighted a diverse collection of efforts, touching on key areas such as community building and integration, support and collaboration, educational and employment opportunities, and family support including efforts from government, nonprofit and education organizations within the community.
When Luke was attempting to land the F-35, it was city and state officials, along with the nonprofit group Fighter Country Partnership, who launched a campaign called Luke Forward to garner support for the base.
The group worked to position Arizona as a strong advocate for the jet’s mission, and almost 22,000 people registered their commitment on the campaign’s website.
“This community, for decades, has embraced that installation, and it’s really been an example of how to support a military installation,” said Ron Sites, executive director of Fighter Country Partnership. “We have a community of fantastic, amazing Americans, and they truly appreciate Luke Air Force Base and its mission.”
The F-35 is estimated to bring 3,000 military, civilian and contractor jobs and more than $125 million in associated construction to the West Valley at full build out.
In addition, Luke contributes about $2.17 billion to Arizona’s economy each year, according to a study commissioned by the state.
“Besides having the great opportunity to have amazing military members of high integrity living amongst us, financially, it’s a massive economic engine,” Sites said about Luke’s contribution to the West Valley.
The official designation will be presented in June during a ceremony at the ADC annual summit in Washington, D.C.
Emily Toepfer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EmilyToepfer.
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