Rep. James Armes: Troop reduction will have tremendous impact | News
The following is a statement from state Rep. James K. Armes, D-Leesville:
“It saddens, disappoints and frustrates me to hear about the Department of Defense’s plan to reduce troops at Fort Polk, LA.
This will have a tremendous, immediate economic impact on this area, especially Vernon Parish, La; and that impact eventually will be felt statewide.
We – the citizens of this area - have always had a very strong since of patriotism and have supported our troops in every way. Louisiana has a strong and long tradition of service to our nation’s defense. We’ve generated dedicated, able troops and training, and provided land, facilities and know-how. From the Higgins invasion boats built in New Orleans and the Louisiana Maneuvers of WWII that took place right here in Vernon Parish, to the leadership then and now, Louisiana has answered the call. Remember the Flying Tigers and the Fighting Tigers were both Louisiana born.
Just when we re-gained a belief and trust in the stability for Ft. Polk, it looks like we are going back to ground zero. We have been misled time and time again; that we were going to add troops not lose them.
In fact, the state, parish and local businesses have already invested heavily in a future to accommodate new troops. The people of Vernon Parish have just given Ft. Polk permission to purchase 14-thousand acres of land for training; we’ve built a new veterans’ cemetery; started new highway replacements, including Hwy 28 to Alexandria and a new appropriation of 24 million dollars to LA 467, a entryway to Fort Polk; good people have just built nine new motels in our area to support the JRTC; our local school board is currently building a new elementary school and has just received a new millage tax to build a new high school.
When citizens of Ft. Carson turned down selling their land for training, Vernon Parish stepped up in partnership with Fort Polk; we gave up hunting leases, taxes, homes and land to support our countries need for troops at Fort Polk.
This is real money, real time and real effort, real lives … investing in a future that has just been taken away.
You might say that Ft. Polk and the Department of Defense have turned their backs on this part of the state.
I urge them to re-evaluate that decision; to take a serious look at what we have already offered, and in what we still have to offer the fighting men and women of our nation.
Let’s not take away from – let’s add to the strength of Ft. Polk and our surrounding communities.”