Local chapter seeks to double community partnerships

Local chapter seeks to double community partnerships

Monday, April 29, 2019

One chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army wants to double its business members over the next three months, and if it can exceed its goal by even just a few members, the Fort Rucker-Wiregrass chapter of AUSA—already boasting thousands of individual members—would become the largest in Alabama.

“Membership equals capability and a greater opportunity to get funding,” said retired Col. Mark Jones, president of the AUSA Wiregrass chapter.

Funding for the military is always in flux, Jones said, and strong community support can’t be underestimated.

The chapter’s partnerships with local businesses rose recently from 36 to more than 100. Some of those agreements have lapsed, and the chapter is looking to add around 100 more in the next 90 days.

“Army aviation is not cheap. These are flying machines, and they are expensive. That is why we need sustainable and predictable funding,” Jones said, according to a report in the Dothan Eagle.

The Fort Rucker-Wiregrass chapter of AUSA is working to increase its business members as it continues to support the home of Army aviation. (U.S. Army/Chief Warrant Officer 4 David P. Peveto)

In 2015, busloads of Wiregrass residents flocked to Fort Rucker, Alabama, home of Army aviation, for a listening session when Congress was considering sequestration—a significant reduction in military spending, said Mark Culver, chairman of the Houston County Commission.

When it comes to the budget, community support can be a significant factor, said Dothan School Board Chairman Mike Schmitz, who also serves as the vice president for membership for the Wiregrass chapter.

According to a 2008 Troy University study, Fort Rucker creates 23,150 Wiregrass jobs directly and indirectly, pouring $850 million in wages and salaries into the local economy.

The study also showed that retirees living within 50 miles of Fort Rucker earned $1 billion in military retiree and annuitant pay.

Corporate memberships start for as little as $175 annually. Applications for membership can be found at www.ausawiregrass.org, then click on community partner application.