Editorials

SUN HERALD | Editorial: Coast ready to defend its military bases

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDLarry Middleton and Joe Giles of the Patriot Guard shake hands with U.S. Marines as they arrive for the 37th annual Salute to the Military in Biloxi on Oct. 20.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDLarry Middleton and Joe Giles of the Patriot Guard shake hands with U.S. Marines as they arrive for the 37th annual Salute to the Military in Biloxi on Oct. 20.

When is the perfect time to fight to keep all five military bases on the Coast? Now. Before they are in jeopardy.

That's what the Coast is doing. And, talk about perfect timing.

The Harrison County Military Team on Thursday showed the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce it's ready to defend Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Trent Lott Training Complex in Gulfport, Stennis Space Center in Hancock County and Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg.

That was just days after a spectacular Salute to the Military let those men and women of the armed forces know just how much they are appreciated on the Coast.

"As military members, we move around all the time," said Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, the commander of the Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base. "I think most people in the military will tell you that what we want is a community that wants us, that respects us, that's good to us and our families. We get that on the Gulf Coast."

The next round of recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission isn't until fiscal year 2017 but Brown's glowing review reminds us our team has a lot of ammo already. We have a great climate, a lot of affordable homes, including new housing on the bases, and a wonderful quality of life.

We offer so much that a lot of service people return to retire here. More than 40,000 veterans live here. The Salute just underscores how much we like having them.

And no wonder. The military bases employ almost 20,000 people and have a $1.6 billion economic impact.

Add to that all the contractors and industry related to defense. There were defense contracts on the Coast worth $1 billion in 2014 alone.

Service members are also some of the best volunteers, coaches, Scout leaders you'll find. They are a big part of our communities.

It's up to us to keep them here.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.

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