As a military brat in the mid 90’s, the word “BRAC” was scary. It meant we might have to move again and it clearly amped up the stress level in my house. We survived the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, round and moved on to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida where I happily adjusted to weekends at the beach.
Now that I am on “the other side,” as a contractor, supporting a government client onsite at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), BRAC has taken on a different meaning for me. I am excited to watch outstanding science and technology Army missions relocate to APG, but tinged with concern when I sit in the new bumper-to-bumper traffic traveling off post at the end of each day. “This is just the beginning,” I’ve grumbled to myself lately.
Although BRAC is strictly a business decision, aimed at improving the efficiency of our national security structure, it is laced with great emotion – on both sides. I have seen the great communication and marketing efforts aimed at those coming to Maryland, focusing on our state’s appeal, but what does “Jane,” who lived in Harford County her whole life, think about BRAC impacts? Does she know what is going on and does she even care?
Sure, I might have to sit in traffic a few more minutes than I did last year, but because I attend many of the BRAC network meetings I know that APG turning into one of the nation’s most important science and security headquarters will bring a meaningful economic boom to our county and ultimately our state. Does Jane know that? Or does Jane just think BRAC means more traffic, an overpopulated classroom at her child’s school and a longer wait at the ER?
I challenge the military and the Harford County government to engage the current residents and businesses of the county. Share BRAC news frequently—in the Aegis, on radio, billboards, blogs, tweets and events. Let’s see BRAC information at the 4th of July parade, BBQ bash, the Farm Fair and even Harford Mall. We need to make sure that our neighbors perceive BRAC as a positive economic AND lifestyle gain. A robust community offers potential for better infrastructure, job opportunities, choices in our children’s education and excellent medical care. Let’s motivate our cheerleaders before its too late and they put their pom poms down.