Vitter: Community prepared in effort to help shield Fort Polk from cuts

LEESVILLE -- West Central Louisiana has helped clear hurdles when it comes to preserving and enhancing Fort Polk, but the race isn't over, said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La, on Tuesday.

Vitter spoke at a community town hall in Leesville, held at the historic Vernon Parish courthouse.

Budget threats remain, but Vitter said the community is well-organized and prepared to tackle challenges, noting local leadership, elected officials and Fort Polk Progress, an area lobbying group.

"There are going to be more possible cuts to the Army and the military. But I think we have a lot of positive things going on at Fort Polk, so I feel good about continuing to meet that challenge," Vitter continued.

Mike Reese, Fort Polk Progress chairman, was at the meeting and said in about a week, the Department of the Army's  Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) will be released on Fort Polk.

Reese said the Army will be looking at the information -- and other studies from military installations -- as officials draft their plan to reduce troop strength across the military. It's the same process that officials eyed last year.

Reese said there's a possible loss of around 6,500 troops at Fort Polk this time around. Last year saw a potential cut of 5,000. He said there will again be a public comment period and listening sessions, like last year.

Reese said Fort Polk Progress and area officials will once more outline Fort Polk's value to the Army and community, and will rely heavily on Vitter -- and other federal lawmakers -- to help deliver that message.

"Really, just putting you on notice that this is occurring and the timeline this is occurring in, and really imploring your help and asking for your support in that," Reese said to Vitter.

(Article posted May 27, 2014)
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Location : LouisianaVernon Parish
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