By Senator Patty Ritchie
Here in Central and Northern New York, we see yellow ribbons everywhere we go – on trees, bumper stickers, in businesses and prominently displayed outside homes.
To help show support for Fort Drum, its soldiers and their families, I am making special Fort Drum yellow ribbons available for download at www.ritchie.nysenate.gov, as well as in my offices.
You can also call my Watertown office at (315) 782-3418 to request copies.
Recently, many people showed their support for Fort Drum by attending the “Community Listening Session” held at Case Middle School in Watertown.
The listening session was one of 29 being held across the country, organized to capture community input for the Army’s top leaders to consider as part of the reduction and reorganization of its force structure.
According to officials, Fort Drum could lose as many as 8,000 soldiers, or gain as many as 3,000.
Nearly 120 of you who weighed in via my website, as well as those who packed the school’s auditorium to extend your support in person, helped send a strong message to the Army’s top brass that Fort Drum is a vital part of our region.
Last year, Fort Drum had a $1.4 billion impact on our economy and the post is responsible for creating thousands of local jobs.
But, it’s not just about economics.
The troops and their families who call Fort Drum “home” are our co-workers, our neighbors and our friends.
Because Fort Drum is such a big part of Central and Northern New York, it’s our job to support it.
As State Senator, I have been a strong advocate for the post, securing budget funding to address a critical, regional housing shortage that threatens continued growth of the facility, and to helping to protect the post in the event of new federal military budget cuts.
Part of that support also includes recognizing our troops as well as their families for the sacrifices they make.
Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to join with Major General Stephen Townsend to honor more than 50 Fort Drum volunteers for their 184,770 hours of community service on the post.
On May 10, I’ll be making another visit to Fort Drum; hosting my annual New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame Ceremony at the USO.
The Hall of Fame pays tribute to New Yorkers who have served their country in the US Armed Forces and made significant contributions to their communities. This year, I’ll be honoring more than two dozen veterans who have served our country.
The North Country wouldn’t be what it is today without Fort Drum, and our country, wouldn’t be what it is today without our brave troops safeguarding our freedom.
To those who serve, thank you for the sacrifices you have made to protect our great nation.
To all others, I encourage you to take the time to recognize, thank and support those who serve.