Altus named one of 5 Great American Defense Communities

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - Altus has been named as one of the five Great American Defense Communities.

The honor was given by the USAA and the Association of Defense Communities. The award is given to communities that demonstrate great work in improving the quality of life of military personnel and their families. Altus city and base leaders say they aren’t being honored for just one specific thing they did, but rather the mindset that the entire community has when it comes to Altus Air Force Base.

Every military community across the country, regardless of the branch of the military, was eligible for the award. Only five were selected.

“It shows we’re doing our job. In Altus, it’s a culture we’re raised with here, working with our military base. It’s been going on since the beginning of time, since back in the late 50s. It’s just something that we work at so it’s nice to be recognized for it,” said Altus Mayor Jack Smiley.

Dr. Joe Leverett is the Chairman of the Altus Military Affairs Committee. He said this award isn’t about the base doing any single thing well. Instead, it’s about the city fully accepting Altus Air Force Base and all of the airmen stationed there into every aspect of the community.

“Altus Air Force Base is over a $550 million economic impact to Altus community. I make it simple, that’s about $1.5 million a day that Altus Air Force base contributes to the economic impact of Altus. But it’s also the relationships, the airmen and their spouses go to our churches, they go to our schools,” Leverett said.

Congressman Frank Lucas was in town for the ceremony and said awards like this one are vital when tough decisions must be made at the national level.

“It’s been a while since we’ve gone through a Base Realignment and Closure Commissioner, there’s always that danger down the road. Helping stress how supportive the community is and the track record of that to the Air Force means when decisions are made about resources, future mission assignments, they’re going to look upon Altus with the enthusiastic knowledge that the community will support whatever needs to be done to help the Air Force,” Lucas said.

In a press release from the City of Altus, Senator Jim Inhofe also commented on the honor, saying “I am incredibly pleased—but not surprised—to hear that Altus, Okla., has been chosen as a Great American Defense Community. Oklahoma’s military bases play a crucial role in our nation’s readiness and Altus Air Force Base’s role in maintaining the C-17, the KC-135 and the KC-46 continues to exceed expectations. Congratulations to the Altus community, the men and women serving at the base and all of Oklahoma’s military for continuing to embrace our nation’s highest set of standards and service.”

Senator James Lankford also stated Congratulations, Altus, on this high honor that recognizes the vital role the entire community contributes in supporting the airmen and making Altus Air Force Base successful in its mission. Anyone who knows Altus knows that the people are its greatest asset. It’s good to share the ways Altus is growing and expanding in and around the Base, and I’m proud to see this national attention paid to one of Oklahoma’s brightest lights.”

The four other communities honored were Everett, Washington, Coastal Georgia, Great Falls, Montana, and Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

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