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FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. – In what city and state officials say could be a serious blow to the communities nationwide, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) voted on Aug. 24 to close down several bases including the ones here. The commission agreed with the Pentagon and proposed closing both Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem in Georgia; Fort Monroe in Virginia; the U.S. Army Garrison in Selfridge, Mich.; and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Nearly 400 Army Reserve and National Guard facilities in several dozen states are also on the chopping block. Two other Georgia installations were also recommended for closure – Naval Air Station – Atlanta in Marietta, and the Navy Supply School in Athens. The $18 million Fort McPherson Credit Union serves active duty military at both Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem. Amy Osbourne, president/CEO of the CU had heard about the announcement but hesitated to comment further. “There’s nothing to comment on at this point, we haven’t heard anything from the installation,” Osbourne told Credit Union Times at press time. Chartered in 1991, Fort McPherson CU serves nearly 5,000 members. Its field of membership also includes retired military living in the Atlanta area, civil services at both forts and employees of the City of East Point here. Georgia Credit Union Affiliates offered preemptive support to several of the state’s credit unions including Fort McPherson CU when they appeared on the federal government’s radar for closure a little over a year ago. “In preparation for the potential closing of these military bases, GCUA consultants have worked with several single-sponsor military credit unions, in some cases for over a year, to facilitate their efforts to diversify their membership bases through field of membership expansion,” said Richard Ellis, GCUA vice president of credit union development. “Such expansions ensure continued service to the member and thereby fortify the financial health of the affected military-based communities.” GCUA said it will continue to monitor BRAC’s decisions and maintain its support of credit unions affected by any final rulings. In May, the Pentagon had proposed to close or consolidate 62 major military bases and 775 smaller installations in an effort to save $48.8 billion over the next 20 years. BRAC will send its final proposal to President Bush by Sept 8. Bush can either accept the report or order changes to it. If he accepts the proposal, it becomes law in about nine weeks unless Congress passes a joint resolution rejecting it. Lawmakers haven’t taken that step in any of the previous base-closing rounds. If Forts McPherson and Gillem are ultimately approved for closure, it would take two years to initiate the action and up to six years to complete it, according to Fort McPherson officials. All of this hinges on President Bush’s final decision and if BRAC becomes law. The number of civilian employees and soldiers that stand to be impacted are 511 and 570 respectively at Fort Gillem and 2,260 civilian and 1,181 soldiers at Fort McPherson. Fort McPherson has long ties to Georgia’s history dating back to 1835. With anticipation of the Civil War, the old muster grounds at Fort McPherson in southwest Atlanta became a training ground for troops. In 1867 to 1868, a 10-company post was constructed on the 53 acres of leased ground at the southwest corner of Atlanta, and on December 30, 1867, was named McPherson Barracks in honor of Union Maj. Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, U.S. Volunteers (Brigadier General, USA). He was killed July 22, 1864, during the Battle of Atlanta. Fort Gillem, in Forest Park, Ga., is a satellite installation of Headquarters, U. S. Army Garrison, Fort McPherson. Both forts are major employers in the area. Fort McPherson is Atlanta’s seventh largest employer according to the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Fort Gillem is Clayton County, which is in nearby Atlanta, third largest employer. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue expressed disappointment after his office along with several state senators made numerous appeals to the Pentagon and BRAC to reconsider the closure recommendations. “We made every effort to demonstrate the critical role that Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson play in the defense of our nation and the economic reasons that they should remain open,” Perdue said in a statement. “The Pentagon and the BRAC Commissioners have decided differently and we are deeply disappointed by their decision.” [email protected]

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