About the Program

Every day, America’s defense communities are working to create welcoming and supportive spaces for service members and their families to live and thrive. As the home to our military, these communities recognize the unique challenges and hard work needed to ensure military families are made to feel valued.

The Great American Defense Communities (GADC) program shines a light on the regions and individuals that are making a difference. The program was designed to recognize and celebrate communities with an exceptional commitment to improving the lives of service members, veterans and their families. The Great American Defense Communities is made possible through ADC’s partnership with USAA.

This year, GADC will focus on innovation, workforce development, education, entrepreneurship and supporting young service members.

To learn more about past Great American Defense Communities, watch their stories on ADC’s GADC YouTube channel.

Families welcome home Sailors attached to the “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 in Virginia Beach, Va. Part of the Hampton Roads region, Virginia Beach was a 2017 Great American Defense Community. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn E. Macdonald


December 21st

Open program nomination period.

January 11th

GADC informational webinar on Zoom. Click here to watch.

January 31st

Program nomination period closes.


Communities are selected and notified.

Early March

Press releases are distributed to communities and outreach to local and national media in anticipation of 2023 Defense Communities National Summit.

March 6-8

2023 Class of Great American Defense Communities announced at the Defense Communities National Summit in Washington D.C.


Coordinate delegation visits and events in GADCs and video shoots in communities.

November 6-8

GADCs honored in keynote session and evening reception at the 2023 Installation Innovation Forum in Orlando, Fla.

Information for 2023 Applicants

Does your community have a unique approach to tackling the housing crisis for service members? How do you bolster workforce development? The GADC program wants to hear the initiatives in your community that improve the lives of service members, military families, and/or veterans.

Some important information:

  • GADC is about military quality-of-life programs, NOT P3/P4 efforts, BRAC, infrastructure efforts, etc.
  • The topics we are interested in learning about are workforce development, education, entrepreneurship, supporting young service members, housing, climate resilience, or any other pertinent issue affecting military communities. Specifically, we want to see how your community innovates to combat these challenges.
  • There will be a webinar on Wednesday, January 11th at 12:30pm EST. Watch the recording of it below.
  • To be a successful candidate, ADC needs to know the following:
    • Can your community support publicizing this recognition?
    • Can your community host and participate in ADC events and a delegation visit from our staff and Board of Directors?
    • Can your community assist in the development and coordination of a video shoot and interviews?

For more information on the GADC program, please contact Chris Duyos at (202) 812-2054 or cduyos@defensecommunities.org