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Bush approves $3 million in federal funds for Fort Stewart
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With his recent signing of the 2008 Defense Appropriations bill, President Bush approved nearly $3 million in federal funding for training and refurbishment projects on Fort Stewart, as well as a pay raise for service members.
The $471 billion defense measure includes $1.6 million to assist with roofing restorations on base that have been underfunded and another $1.2 million to improve live fire ranges, which have experienced accelerated wear and tear due to increased training by soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I don’t want our troops involved in a fair fight,” area U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah), who as a member of the House Appropriations Committee helped secure the funding, said about the need to update equipment and facilities. “I want them to have every advantage in training, equipment and resources when they go into battle and when they return home.”
There was more than $20 million of additional funding allocated for Fort Stewart in the original bill created in the House, but those earmarks were unable to be secured in the legislation that made its way to the president’s desk.
“In the House bill, Fort Stewart was going to get about $23 million in (operating and maintenance) money to do other facility restoration, sustainment and maintenance and also to plus up some Army Community Services. In this bill, the way it played out is, the total amount that the Army was getting, about $1.2 billion, was cut in half,” Kingston’s military legislative assistant Jeff Glenn explained, adding the Army’s total funding for O&M projects is now $615 million. “And then they did not dictate it out by base, so we know Fort Stewart is going to get some extra money...but the Army has to prioritize that and say where they’re going to do it.”
Rounding out the defense spending was $2.4 million for the Parents as Teachers Heroes at Home project, an initiative that provides professional parenting support and child development information directly to the homes of young military families. As a pilot site for the program, Fort Stewart will share in the funds with 12 other bases that offer the service.
Third Infantry Division soldiers will also share in the 3.5 percent pay raise that was given to members of all the nation’s armed forces as part of the bill.
Noting the worsening divide between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, Kingston said he was happy the two sides could set aside their differences on at least one issue.
“In a Congressional-environment where we have only been able to pass one of the 12 required appropriation bills to date,” he said, “I’m glad we were able to come together and pass the defense bill for the men and women who protect our freedom.”
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