North Carolina invests in strengthening military communities

Senator Norman Sanderson’s opening comments at the Chamber’ Legislative Luncheon Wednesday were:

“This is a great thing you ask us to do…to come and meet with you and be accountable to you.”

He commented on several of the legislative priorities on the Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Agenda, including “Support for the Military.”

Sen. Sanderson offered assurance that he is fully committed to making Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East “BRAC-proof” facilities.  (BRAC is the commonly accepted acronym for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.)

Although the U.S. Congress has not yet authorized another round of BRAC, Sen. Sanderson said now is the time to get ready and develop sustainable programs that attest to the critical importance of Cherry Point to ensure the national defense and security.  “It can’t be a flash-in-the-pan type of effort,” he concluded.

Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow (ACT) and other community advocacy groups warn that the effects of a “Shadow BRAC,” conducted internally by the U.S. Department of Defense could result in downsizing or restructuring independent of a congressionally ordered BRAC.

“North Carolina is willing to do what it takes to show the Department of Defense that we are the most military friendly state in the nation,” Sen. Sanderson said.  “We know it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of money,” because other states are making similar investments.

“We have created a Governor’s Cabinet level position for the Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs.  This is a big deal, because it gives the importance of the military statewide exposure.”

Serving as the new Secretary is Cornell Wilson Jr., a retired Marine Corps Major General.

Sen. Sanderson said North Carolina is making a lot of progress, working hand-in-hand with the North Carolina Community College System to make innovative changes regarding educational opportunities for military members, Veterans and their families.

Transportation projects also have military implications, including the US 70 Corridor improvements and greater investments at the Port of Morehead City.

At the federal level, bills have been introduced in Congress to designate US 70 as a “Future Interstate.”  One is known as “The Military Corridor Transportation Improvement Act.”