The following editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:
Alaska is integral to the military well-being of the nation. With that in mind, the state is expecting more than $200 million for major military capital projects.
The money is included in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill along with funds for Alaska’s veterans.
The bill would restore full military retirement benefits to working-age medically retired veterans, according to Sen. Lisa Murkowski. This is a result of the last federal-government shutdown, which included a 1-percent reduction in the cost of living adjustment for military retirees until they turn 62; at that age, they would receive full retirement benefits.
The projects that would be funded with passage of the bill include $45 million for an aviation battalion complex and $58 million for an aviation storage hangar at Fort Wainright; $17.2 million for a ballistic missile defense system upgrade of early warning radar at Clear Air Force Station, and $82 million to replace a mechanical-electrical building at Fort Greely.
Murkowski has stressed the importance of equipping Alaska in light of increasing national threats coming out of Asia and the Pacific. The Pentagon has been focused on the Pacific Rim.
Alaska is strategically located for protecting the nation from harm coming from that direction. It is imperative that the military forces are supplied with the infrastructure necessary to do its jobs, and its as equally important to demonstrate a commitment to those who serve and treat them fairly when their service ends. Their treatment affects not only the morale of the retired, but those in service who one day will be.
Alaska’s leadership and Alaskans understand the importance of the military to the state and the nation.