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The impact of base closings

Readers share how base closings will impact their communities.
The list of recommended closures included 33 large military bases and some 150 smaller facilities across the country. David Duprey / AP

Your assignment: With military bases closing around the nation, MSNBC is asking readers in areas impacted by the announcement to share how the news will affect their communities.

A success story
Oscoda, Mich., is an example of a town surviving a base closure. Wurtsmith AFB was closed in 1993 and for a time the economy and outlook of the community was turned upside down. But a flourishing cargo airline has put its maintenance facility where SAC used to be, a jet engine overhaul company is flourishing and other companies have leased or purchased buildings. In addition, new industries are growing, the base hospital is being used, a college uses one of the facilities as a satellite campus, and almost all of the base housing has been refurbished and sold to families who have found Oscoda to be a really good town to live in. To be sure, it has not come easily, but Oscoda, fifty or more miles from any major town or city, has found a new life and is finding that there is life after death of a military facility. Granted, it has not come easily but it is exciting to see a town not simply survive but flourish despite the loss of a base.  
--Bruce M., Oscoda, Mich.

Diminishing security
Otis Air National Guard Base is located on Cape Cod, and has for many years provided jobs, and security to the Cape community.  Closing Otis would also put our nation at risk.  It is close to Boston and New York City, and on 9-11 played a key role in responding to the attacks in New York.  Aside from anyone's political views, we are at war.  What kind of message is the government sending when it decides to close bases that so many of our men and women came from who are now overseas fighting for us?  Rome, N.Y., was a base town, and when Grifface AFB was closed, the town's economy went down the drain.  Rumsfeld, who has been a supporter of our military from day one would do good to sit and think about what will happen to the economies and lives of countless other small, and large base towns all over the U.S.  
--Laura Evans, Sandwich, Mass.

Bad on all fronts
The impact of base closings in the United States is a huge blow to local economy and our homeland security. Amidst the great American war on terror the U.S. government wants to lessen local security and national? I live in Nashua, N.H., and personally this wouldn't effect me. However the Portsmouth naval shipyard is pretty darn close to the Seabrook, N.H. nuclear power plant. I personally like the fact we have some eastern seaboard protection from any threats. Now what do have? Unemployment and no protection. Thanks Uncle Sam, I look forward to seeing you again next April 15th.
--John J. Murray, Nashua, N.H.

Accomplishments overlooked by Pentagon
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has received her marching orders, but the closure order given today will be a difficult one to carry out. We have led the way in submarine overhaul, accomplished everything the Navy has tasked us to do and more. I guess I am simply disappointed and saddened at the fact that our accomplishments have meant so little to the Pentagon. This BRAC round will definitely effect our community over the next several years, bust mostly it will effect the pride and soul of the shipyard workers themselves - the workers, planners, and engineers that have put everything on the line to be the very best at what they do, only to be thanked in such a manner that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I am very proud of my fellow shipyarders, and while we wait for the final word, we'll stay in front of the pack and set a few more overhaul records until we are relieved of duty and hear the shipyard whistle blow for the last time.
--TQ, Kittery, Maine

Closing base, closing everything
I live near the Niagara Falls Air reserve base and closing it would literally close the area down. It is the only major employer in the area and it is already economically depressed with tourist going to the Canadian side. It would also mean the loss of many hundreds of jobs on the base. Also, it would leave many buildings vacant and all the land bare for many years. The entire WNY area cannot afford to lose any more major employers.
--Donald Seifert, Buffalo, N.Y.

Room for expansion
I live in Ridgecrest, Calif. Just down the street is the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center. I have never worked on the base, but have been experiencing the fear of the base being closed for many years.  I could never understand the fear.  We are in the middle of the Mojave Desert - plenty of unused land and air space — room for expansion.  If several bases are doing the same or near same jobs that were created years ago, it makes sense in this age of technology that bases could be combined.  But, I had lunch today with a person that works at China Lake and was told that the supposed savings of closures is much less than the costs of closing the bases. Not including the costs to communities and their citizens.
--Mary Lewis, Ridgecrest, Calif.

Protect New Orleans and the economy
I live in historic Algiers Point, a stone's throw from the New Orleans base on the roster today to close here. New Orleans is one of the most economically depressed cities of its size in the country and the loss will be felt by those members and their families who work there, by those of us who live in the area and who see revenue generated from the money spent by the people employed there and for the city as a whole.  We are also one of the most important port cities is the country and security here should be a top priority.  Please do not close our base!
--Brett Shingledecker, New Orleans, La.

Positive impact
It would be a great and positive change.  In Hampton Roads some high value real estate will be freed up for a more profitable use, some park and recreation land will be more accessible to the general public, and several major traffic bottlenecks will be reduced.  The military exists to provide for the common defense of the nation, not welfare style 'jobs' for individual communities.  This reorganization will benefit us all.
--Leigh Alan Dyer, Norfolk, Va.

Government needs to look out for its constituents
Mt. Home AFB is apparently on the list to be closed, in Idaho. Idaho is suffering greatly in rural areas with plant closures, etc. Idaho is also in a draught, affecting agriculture income. One area of hope was the fact that the Air Force base had recently begun hiring civilians in a lot of the previously air force personnel positions. Now this too will affect the people here. My father retired from the Air Force and uses the hospital and commissary privileges. Where will he have to go to get his medical care now? The price of gas is so high, it may not be feasible to drive out of state to receive the medical care. All his time spent in the service will be for nothing? What of all the income property at the site of base closings? People move to areas to support new business, and more new business follows. Now what of all them too? The bases are owned by the government, I understand they need to save money. However, the people own the government, and we should be looked out for as well.
--Cathy Pfeifer, Heyburn, Idaho

Military good for Mississippi
We are currently on active duty and living in Gulfport, Miss. Pascagoula Shipyard employs many people here. It is relatively new. They have added more housing for military families and the city and surrounding cities have grown much since we were stationed here 12 years ago. This area of Mississippi NEEDS the military bases and the employment it provides. This area is very poor. As it would affect our lives, we'd probably have to move our family again. We have moved four times because of base closures in the past!
--C. Knuth, Gulfport, Miss.

Tough on all of Connecticut
I work at the Groton Sub Base. I've been employed there for six years. I feel as though the entire state of Ct. will have an impact to our base closing. I'm a barber at the base and have a chance to talk to the men who are stationed there. Many have recently bought houses in the area. This will crush the local economy and many people will loose their homes. We are somewhat fortunate that we have two large casinos in the area to look for jobs, but if the men and women in the military get stationed elsewhere there will be less people going to the casinos, the local department stores, and malls. These places will not be hiring new employees. This is just a terrible cycle of unemployment.
--JoAnne, Preston, Conn.

Feeling it locally, looking nationally
I live on Cannon AFB in Clovis, NM where my husband works. I agree with the BRAC list and support the closing of Cannon AFB. Cannon AFB is a small base with approximately 4,000 personnel. The military could move this fighter wing to another base. It is a waste of federal tax dollars to keep a small base such as Cannon AFB alive when the Department of Defense could just move this wing to another base. Many people in Clovis fear losing the base because of economics, etc., but the truth is, that Clovis could survive. There are many businesses moving to Clovis because the city is growing. The federal government needs to weigh out the few millions a city like Clovis would lose or the billions the government will lose keeping bases like Cannon open. I believe that Cannon AFB should be closed.
--Betsy B., Clovis, N.M.

A 'significant setback'
I live in Rapid City, S.D., near Ellsworth Air Force Base and work in the medical field. Closure of this base will reduce the number of individuals who require medical attention and that will affect me directly as Rapid City is the community that provides the military and civilian personnel with their medical care.  Indirectly however, the loss of 3,000-plus individuals and their families who spend their incomes in our community of only approximately 60,000 will have a immediate and longer lasting affect on the community as a whole. The closure of the base would also reduce the number of students in the Douglas School System by one-half. Unless the Defense Department or Federal Government can assist the community in securing a profitable use of Ellsworth Air Force Base I believe the economic impact of the closure on such a small and economically modest community could be devastating.  This community has begun to thrive in the past 8-10 years and I see this as a reasonably significant setback. 
--Craig A. Nedved, Rapid City, S.D.

Multiple impacts in New Jersey
Closing of Fort Monmouth will have multiple effects on my life. First, we are a retired military family that uses the medical, recreational and commissary facilities that Fort Monmouth provides and will no longer be available.  The biggest impact is on our food budget that will increase by 15-20 percent.  Although I am not working full time, I do part-time consulting work for a small company providing business services to Fort Monmouth. This 10-year-old company of less than 25 people will be out of business sometime before the lights are turned out. There was projected growth for the company until this announcement. As the Chairman of the Monmouth County Workforce Investment Board I foresee many challenges to the system providing employment and training assistance employees of companies that are providing contractual services to the fort.  There is heavy concentration of high technology white-collar workers who will become unemployed in an area that already has a surplus of high technology personnel.  This will definitely impact housing values, although they have been increasing at an "obscene" percentage rate of 20.3% in the last year (as reported in the Asbury Park Press newspaper this morning).  My initial reaction is that this closure impacts more white collar high technology people -- both government & supporting contractor living and working in the area -- than any other realignment or closure that is shown on the list.
--Carl Lillvik, Ocean Township, N.J.

More military means more traffic
I live in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington State and we will see an influx of military troops. The government has already implemented a new gas tax of 9 cents to improve traffic conditions, but with more troops coming, our commute will be worse than ever.
--Stephanie Branchcomb, Puyallup, Wash.

Is this payback by G.W. Bush for not voting his way? 8,600 jobs would be lost in Connecticut - that's 1/3 of the total jobs in this proposal (26,000 total). This is a fairly small state, wouldn't it make more sense to spread out the impact? Do we want to leave the northeast United States vulnerable? Fifteen million people in New York City can't feel comfortable about that! How come California is losing only 2,018 jobs? Florida only 2,757?  New England is taking a huge hit and doesn't have much support, was it planned this way? I think this committee needs an investigation on itself!!
--William Norton, Ledyard, Conn.

Home values drop
I will watch the value of my home go from $120,000 to a point where I cannot give it away.  As a military retiree, I will now have to spend more for food and cleaning items since I will no longer have a military commissary to go to. 
--Bill Drumma, Clovis, N.M

Cut waste, not bases
I believe closing so many National Guard and Reserve Units, including ours in Kearney, Neb., will greatly harm the military efforts to defend our country.  The cost for maintaining many of these units is absolutely peanuts compared to some of the waste the government and military branches spew out.
I am sure our local National Guard Unit does not cost the American people as much as the transportation costs are to move one Cabinet-level politician around the country in a year. As I write, our neighboring National Guard Unit from Grand Island, Neb. are filling sandbags and fighting flood waters -- actually doing something to benefit the area -- which is part of the original reason for the National Guard. I wonder when the last time a cabinet level politician or military leader filled sand bags because it was part of their sworn duty to their country?
I am not really sure what these leaders are smoking, but they just don't get it. Why should we encourage our young men and women to support the military when the government continually takes from our families and communities and gives it to others?
The current Iraq war is being fought by tens of thousands of National Guard men and women as well as reservists. The reward for their (and their families sacrifice) is to close their local area units location.  Then when they come home, they can drive hundreds of miles to the new location.  I am sure the soldier will be excited to do that. Real smart thinking, big brass!
--Mike McCann, Kearney, Neb.

Change could be a positive
I live 11 miles from Ellsworth (A.F.B.) in New Underwood (S.D.) and my husband and I work in Rapid City.  Closing Ellsworth will not have a ripple effect on Rapid City and the surrounding area but more like a tidal wave effect.  The majority of the families are already struggling with low wages and the constantly rising property taxes, the higher energy prices and numerous other costly everyday needs.  Our children already look to other areas to make a living. If the base closes, more than just our children will have to go looking unless the leaders of South Dakota and the community leaders step up and lead us into making something good out of this for our area.  This may be the opportunity that Western South Dakota needs to bring in more businesses.  If these businesses are willing to hire OUR area people and pay them above average wages, hopefully that would drive up the wage base to match the cost of living for the other area citizens.  Rapid City is growing but somehow in certain areas we are still able to maintain a simplicity that makes it worth living here.  Our area has been noted for the beauty of the Black Hills and our "laid back" attitudes.  The next few weeks and months will be a crucial time for all of us in Western South Dakota as it will be hard to not dwell on the down side of the closing.  Instead we need to remember and remind each other that change is good if we do it right and we need to do it right together, for each other and for our children. 
--Laurie, New Underwood, S.D.

A harbinger for development
I have never experienced the closure of a major military base or facility that did not serve as a harbinger for major development of private sector activities therein.
In my community, Waco, Texas, the closure of Tom Connelly Air Force Base brought on the development of the airfield as a base of operations for Raytheon, Chrysler and other major defense and aeronautical contractors that serve both the Department of Defense and the private sector.  In addition, the entire base was converted to a splendid technical college, a place to learn anything from diesel mechanics to computer programming, commercial flight to turf and golf course grass management, or petrochemical mixture technologies. Military base closures aren't necessarily the end of the world for a community.
--Jim Parks, Clifton, Texas

Exposed Northeast?
My husband is stationed on a submarine currently being overhauled at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in Kittery, Maine. We have been warmly welcomed to the area by local business and community organizations. It deeply disturbs me that these warm-hearted New Englanders will soon have their hearts broken and their hope crushed by the lack of foresight the government has shown. If the military takes away the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, as well as the Naval Yard in Portsmouth, they are leaving the Northeast coastline virtually unprotected.
--Julie S., Wells, Maine

Impact beyond the military
I live in Los Alamitos, Calif., and the Joint Air Force Reserve Center is near my house.  The United States Water Polo National Training Center is at this base and if they close it the National Men's and Women's team will be out of an Olympic training facility.  Also, recreational facilities for the local community will be lost and the Los Alamitos Little League will suffer.  Beyond this, there are very few long airport runways left in the greater Los Angeles area.  Base closing in this city will affect not only the military but the civilian population also.
--Andrew Ellis. Los Alamitos, Calif.

Wide-ranging impact in Atlanta
I live in the Atlanta metropolitan area so I utilize the following bases: Ft. Macpherson, Ft. Gillem, NAS-Atlanta and Dobbins ARB.  There are a large number of active-duty retirees and civilians that depend on these bases for many activities.  By closing down Ft. Macpherson, Ft. Gillem and NAS-Atlanta, you are not only going to cause a major impact with the number of lost jobs but also a loss to the development of the surrounding areas.  What about realigning Ft. Gillem since it is the largest Army facility in the area?  They have many amenities that are used daily by a number of non-uniformed personnel.  They have just done some major renovations on Ft. Macpherson and NAS-Atlanta.  I think that once you retire, the military does not view you as a necessity.   
--Daisy Jackson-Bradley, Dallas, Ga.

Remember Pearl Harbor
The Groton, Conn., submarine base is on the list. Boats would be moved most likely to Newport News, Va.  I guess nobody remembers Pearl Harbor any more.  Lets put our submarines with most of our major surface craft (Carriers, cruisers, destroyers) Lets have only one major ship yard build subs (Electric Boat div of General Dynamics in Groton would go the way of the base next door). The complete idiocy and arrogance of this decision totally baffles me. Groton has been known as "The submarine capital of the world" for as long as I can remember (over 50 years). The local economy and identity will be devastated.  The submarine school (which I attended in 1968) is also at that base. This makes no sense whatsoever and is a strategically stupid and dangerous move.
--Ted Genard, Uncasville Conn.

Substantial damage to S.D.
I live in Rapid City, S.D., home of Ellsworth AFB. I found out this morning that our base is on the BRAC list and I was absolutely shocked. This AFB is the second largest employer in our state, one of the biggest sources of revenue and a big part of our community. My husband is employed by Boeing at Ellsworth working on the B-1 bombers. There are only two bases in the nation with B-1 bombers, Ellsworth in South Dakota and Dyess AFB in Texas. The B-1's were the star of the show so to speak of the Iraq war and continue to be a vital part of our national defense. To close this base would do substantial damage to a community and state that have been die-hard supporters of our troops and this base from day one.
--Samantha McCully, Rapid City, S.D.

A travesty in Arkansas
I think it's a travesty. We already had our "active" base closed, no wait re-aligned to be better utilized for part time, weekend warrior training, etc. Our community thrived on it. We have taken it, revamped it, and thought it was working for us. Now they want to "revamp" us again? Fort Smith is a small community that cares, and does not need to be disrupted again. With a little more than 100 of our 188th Air Guard having been deployed this very week, do they not realize it is working for us? So please, quit trying to work against us.
--Louise, Fort Smith, Ark.

'A fatal blow' in Connecticut
Being a former employee of the Dept. Of Defense and working at the Commissary at Subase New London, I feel that closing this base will a fatal blow to an already struggling economy in this city and town let alone state. People that utilize this subase are mostly retired military and the benefits that they labored for 20-plus years will be shifted to so distant military installation, Believe me, my father in-law put 20-plus years in the navy and the benefits he receives are minimal but they are close to home. Where would he go for medical benefits? Besides him, my mother in-law is disabled. This would devastate them, this little town of Groton, Conn. will be dying a slow death.
--Bob Egan, Groton Conn.

Not bad for everyone
We will pick up missions. In 1995, Ft McClellan, Ala., closed and we absorbed the Military Police and Chemical Schools here at Ft Leonard Wood. We also became a joint services base as we house and train all four services as well as Basic and Advanced Training. We are now the third-fastest growing county in Missouri (out of 114) and property values are rocketing. They will, in all likelihood, go higher as we absorb some of today's base closing missions.
--John Connors, U.S. Army Ret., Dixon, Mo.

No other place for workers to go
I live in New London, CT. The impact of the Groton Sub base closing will devastate the Southeastern Connecticut economy. Eight thousand jobs is huge number considering that this area that has no other place for these workers to go. Many small and medium size businesses will feel the impact at a 50 percent loss of their client base. The question I have is where do these displaced workers go? We don't have the infrastructure here to absorb a loss this great. Southeastern Connecticut is an area comprised of mostly small towns and rural communities, these people will have no choice but to move out if this area. After saying all of this, truth be told, I am not entirely against this closing. Change and progress always have a cost, technology has changed the way we do everything and I support this change. It's pay now or pay later. As a Realtor I know the internet is providing other methods for my clients to find real estate. I can either move forward with this flow or be left behind as progress waits for no one. The questions is here, how do we balance such a huge loss and provide a smooth transition to our community. My personal opinion, the best solution is a carefully planned, step-by-step closure, which with allow for segments of the base or base operations to close. We can absorb a loss of 2,000 jobs a year that will still hurt our people but it's a lot better than 8,000.
--Paul Smith, New London, Conn.

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