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 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.
★ Central Arkansas
Little Rock Air Force Base, located in Jacksonville, Arkansas, is supported by several communities in the central Arkansas region. The community’s dedicated focus on education helped earned its Great American Defense Community recognition, specifically an innovative cyber security curriculum at a local high school that was developed in conjunction with base personnel from the 189th AW/ANG and the 314th AW.
★ Davis and Weber Counties, Utah
Davis and Weber Counties support the second-largest base in the nation, by both population and geographic size. It is the home of the Ogden Air Logistic Complex, one of the three Air Force depots of the Air Force Sustainment Center. This defense community supports military personnel and their families with an Annual Salute Picnic that serves 3,500. The picnic has grown from a welcome home celebration for units deployed following 9/11 to Team Hill’s largest event for the military and their families.
★ Greater Abilene, Texas
The greater Abilene region has a rich history of supporting Dyess, Air Force Base – including the community purchase of the very land the base sits on today. Not only is 2020 a special year because of the Great American Defense Community recognition, but the region is also celebrating the 54th year of “The World’s Largest BBQ.” A West Texas tradition that honors the men, women and families of Dyess Air Force Base by serving a BBQ lunch and dinner to 4,000 – 5,0000 attendees.
★ Junction City, Kansas
There is no shortage of military-supportive spirit in Junction City, Kansas, the town located adjacent to Fort Riley. The community’s Home Away from Home program connects soldiers to local families based on shared interests, with the families providing home cooked meals and a welcoming getaway from the barracks. Over 200 soldiers have participated in the program to date, and the community has no plans to stop forging these connections, that often last long after the solider has moved on to their next post.
★ St. Clair County, Illinois
St. Clair County is part of the greater St. Louis region and home to Scott Air Force Base. Recognizing the value military families and personnel bring to St. Clair County, the community does all it can to welcome airmen to the region and, if transitioning, encourage them to stay in the region. The St. Clair County Workforce Development board briefs every Transitional Assistance Program class at Scott AFB and makes great efforts to ease/ensure licensing reciprocity for spouses.
Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings are welcomed back home by members of the Hill AFB community in Utah. Photo by Ronald Bradshaw