Funding could fortify local Army bases

By Greg Gelpi

World War II-era wooden-buildings at Fort Gillem could be replaced with modern buildings with new funding approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The legislation allots $5.8 million for the construction of a new consolidated headquarters for the U.S. Army 2nd Recruiting Brigade and the U.S. Army Medical Department Detachment 2nd Brigade. Legislation also passed the House for a $4.9 million child development center at Fort McPherson.

"This is exciting," said Jill Snell, a public affairs specialist for the 2nd Brigade. "We have responsibility for directing Army recruiting operations in the Southeastern United States."

Snell said that the "regional office" coordinates the Army's recruiting efforts in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The 2nd Recruiting Brigade is housed in what had been a "service club," she said. The medical detachment is in a building that had been a barracks.

"It strengthens these facilities," said Donni Turner, the legislative director for U.S. Congressman David Scott, D-Atlanta. "(The bases) remain a top priority. They always have been and always will be."

Since designs have already been drawn up, ground can be broken on the nearly 25,000-square foot headquarters facility as soon as funds are transferred, Turner said.

"I believe that these projects strengthen Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson because they are important for our national defense," Scott said in a statement. "In addition, these projects make a direct contribution to improving the well-being of the men and women in the armed services."

The Fort McPherson child development center will provide childcare for up to 198 children.

The U.S. Senate must pass its version of the bill before the final bill can be sent to the president to be signed.

Fort Gillem is one of the largest employers in Clayton County and is home to 1st U.S. Army, the Army Air Force Exchange Service Atlanta Distribution Center, Atlanta Military Entrance Processing Station, 3rd Military Police Group, the Army's only criminal forensics lab and the 52nd Ordnance Group.

Fort McPherson is home to U.S. Army Forces Command, 3rd U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve Command.