(Hanover, Md. June 21, 2017) — The Fort Meade Alliance Foundation has been awarded $500,000 from the State of Maryland for its campaign to create a new Resiliency and Education Center at Fort George G. Meade. This latest funding achievement marks a significant milestone in the Foundation’s $3.6 million Ready Strong and Connected campaign. The campaign has raised more than $1.25 million to date.
“We are so grateful for the tremendous support that we have received for the new Resiliency and Education Center at Fort Meade,” said Deon Viergutz, FMA Foundation President. “Our military service men and women, Department of Defense employees and their families at Fort Meade need our support . With this state and local government support, our public partners as well as our private compassionate community are answering the call. We thank so many, particularly our state and local elected officials for responding to this need.”
In 2013, the FMA Foundation began this significant effort to establish a Resiliency and Education Center on Fort Meade. The plan, which is a partnership with the U.S. Army and the Fort Meade Garrison, includes the renovation of the installation’s historic Kuhn Hall and its conversion into a Resiliency and Education Center, which will serve as a place for all those serving at Fort Meade and their families to come together to find resources, services and programs. Veterans and retires who live in our region will also be served.
“A ready and resilient military force is vital to the defense of our nation. We owe it to our service men and women to provide the best resources possible,” notes Col. Brian Foley, Former Fort Meade Garrison Commander, who still lives on Fort Meade.
There have been a multitude of individuals and organizations counted among the early supporters of this campaign. A special thanks to the State of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, the Baltimore Orioles, the Geaton and Joann DeCesaris Family Foundation Inc., Praxis Engineering, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, the Viergutz Family and individual members of the FMA and FMA Foundation boards for their support. It is with that support that this funding milestone has been achieved.
In addition, the campaign has received significant in-kind donations from the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Comcast Universal, James Posey Associates, Genser, Mazzuca Contracting and Corporate Office Properties Trust.
Designed to serve 160,000 people on post and in the communities that surround it, the new Resiliency and Education Center will host education courses by several colleges and universities, and provide information, programs and services on all five areas of resiliency — physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual. Those coming to the center can receive services there, or be referred to additional resources on post and in the community. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018.
“A variety of resiliency services exist on post and in surrounding areas, but are considered fragmented and not easily accessible,” said Viergutz. “Too often, Soldiers, DoD civilians and their families are unaware of what is available for them, and need a place to go to find those resources and empower them to be the best they can be. The Resiliency and Education Center will fill that need.”
The Resiliency and Education Center will feature services ranging from guidance counseling and transition services to mental health counseling, wellness programs and financial planning. A premier benefit of this space will be new programming for educational programs needed for successful career placement and continuing education, and expansion of existing programs to broader audiences, including spouses.
The need for these services are great. At any given time, there are approximately 400 Army service members at Fort Meade transitioning out of the military. The military unemployment rate is 7.1 percent, nearly 2 percent higher than the national average. Fort Meade has a higher rate of chronic disease (cancer, arthritis, asthma, heart disease), behavioral health disorders (such as PTSD or anxiety) and substance abuse (alcohol, prescription medication and other drugs) than other U.S. Army installations. As an example, Fort Meade’s Behavior Health Programs had more than 27,600 appointments in 2015 — an increase of 2,500 appointments from 2014.
Over the past year, the Foundation has partnered with community leaders to focus its fundraising efforts, make major advances towards its fundraising goal. The state and county commitments made now are part of that focused effort.
About the Fort Meade Alliance Foundation
The FMA Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides scholarships, grants, sponsorships and gifts to organizations, service personnel and their families, members and community organizations to address needs across the Fort Meade region. For more information or to donate to the FMA Foundation, please visit www.ftmeadealliance.org/fma-foundation.