Takes Part in First Meeting of “Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs”
State Senator Patty Ritchie joined today with fellow members of the Council of State Governments “Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs” to discuss ways to improve services and outreach to veterans and active members of our nation’s military.
The discussion was the first for the group, which is tasked with identifying key issues facing veterans and includes legislators and state officials from across the country.
“As the State Senator representing Fort Drum, I make it a priority to look out for the 18,000 soldiers, 20,000 family members and nearly 3,000 veterans who call our region home,” said Senator Ritchie.
State Senator Patty Ritchie is teaming with the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization (FDRLO) and other local leaders to urge people to stand up for Fort Drum by signing an online petition launched today at www.StandUpForFortDrum.com.
The petition follows a proposal by the Army to assess the impact of reducing troop levels to numbers not seen since the beginning of World War II. Taken across the board, the reductions could mean significant cuts at Fort Drum, the North Country’s leading economic engine, which supports thousands of jobs and pumps roughly $1.4 billion into the local economy annually.
“Ft. Drum is a huge part of the North Country—it’s a major job-creator, a significant part of our economy and its troops and their families are not only defenders of our freedom, they are also our friends and neighbors,” said Senator Ritchie.
“I’m joining forces with the FDRLO and local leaders to help send a clear message to the Army that Fort Drum is a vital part of our region, our state and our nation. Our community has welcomed Fort Drum and now, we need to stand together to show our continued support and eagerness to help the post grow and succeed.”
Living in Upstate New York, it’s hard to imagine life without Fort Drum. It’s soldiers are not only defenders of our freedom, they—and their families—are our friends, coworkers and neighbors. In addition, the post also has an unparalleled positive impact on our region, supporting thousands of jobs and pumping roughly $1.4 billion into our economy annually.
Currently, the military is studying what would happen if it cut 16,000 soldiers and civilians from Fort Drum. In light of possible reductions, I’m teaming with local leaders and organizations, like the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization (FDRLO) to gather support for the post.
Letter Cites Positive Economic, Community and Security Impacts of Post
In light of potential troop reductions, State Senator Patty Ritchie expressed her support for Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division in a letter sent today to Army leadership.
The letter follows a proposal by the Army to assess the impact of reducing troop levels to numbers not seen since the beginning of World War II. Taken across the board, the reductions could mean significant cuts at Fort Drum, the North Country’s leading economic engine, which supports thousands of jobs and pumps roughly $1.4 billion into the local economy annually.
In the letter, Senator Ritchie cited the post’s significant economic impact on Central and Northern New York, as well as the state as a whole:
“Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division’s economic value to New York State, Northern and Central New York is well-documented and clearly described in annual Economic Impact Statements issued by the post: $1.2 billion in payroll, more than $100 million in locally sourced contracts for construction and other services, and a total positive economic impact on our region of $1.4 billion a year,” said the letter.
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced that through a collaborative effort with the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, more than 9,000 signatures and dozens of resolutions from local municipalities and organizations in support of Fort Drum have been delivered to Army leadership.
Earlier this month, Senator Ritchie launched www.StandUpForFortDrum.com, a website where the public could sign a petition to show their support for the post. There, nearly 3,000 signatures were collected and then delivered to FDRLO to support the organization’s petition-gathering effort.
“Fort Drum is a vital part of our region, state and nation,” said Senator Ritchie. “The signatures collected are a testament to our area’s desire to preserve and encourage further growth of the post, which each and every day has a significant, positive impact on our local economy, our nation’s security and our community as a whole.”
Funding Will Aid PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer Support Program for Veterans, River Community Wellness Program
In an effort to support active duty military and veterans, State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has secured $185,000 to aid men and women suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other combat related illnesses.
The special funding will be split between Watertown’s VETS Peer to Peer Outreach Center—an organization running the PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer Support Program for Veterans, which was established in part through a grant secured by Senator Ritchie—and Alexandria Bay’s River Community Wellness Program, based at River Hospital.
“Our soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice, putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom,” said Senator Patty Ritchie. “Many troops who have served in combat zones return with wounds we cannot see and as a result, struggle with PTSD as they try to reacclimate themselves with life at home.”
Offices to Feature Drop Boxes for “Holiday Mail for Heroes” Program
State Senator Patty Ritchie is once again calling on Central and Northern New Yorkers to join her in sending warm wishes to troops through the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.
An initiative sponsored by the American Red Cross, Holiday Mail for Heroes collects holiday cards, personally signed by donors, to distribute to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines at military bases, veterans’ hospitals and other locations to let them know they are remembered and appreciated back home. Last year, along with help from local residents, schools and other organizations, Senator Ritchie was able to deliver nearly 8,000 cards to the Red Cross.
“When someone thinks of the holiday season, spending time with family and friends are two of the top things that typically come to mind,” said Senator Ritchie. “In addition to putting their lives on the line to serve our country, members of the military make another big sacrifice—being away from their loved ones at this special time of year. To send a “touch of home” to our troops, I’m hoping that Central and Northern New Yorkers once again take the time to participate in this very important program.”