After months of fundraising, planning and preparation, the Fort Meade Alliance joined Army officials, Congressional leaders and the USO of Metropolitan Washington in the official grand opening of the new Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) at Fort George G. Meade on November 10, 2010.
The 4,500-square foot SFAC serves the more than 170 soldiers who are part of the FGGM Wounded Warrior Transition Unit, which helps soldiers prepare to return to their units, reclassify to other military occupational specialties or transition to life outside of the military. The SFAC offers guidance, resources and support services for the warriors in transition and their family members.
In April 2010, the Fort Meade Alliance and USO of Metropolitan Washington teamed up to raise the necessary funds to furnish the new facility. With a target goal of $100,000, the fundraising effort brought in more than $135,000 thanks to the generous contributions from FMA members and the overall Fort Meade community.
This successful effort was made possible by the Fort Meade Alliance Wounded Warrior Committee, led by Jay Baldwin, retired COL Gorham Black, and Kent Marker, and the countless volunteers from the Fort Meade Alliance and the community, as well as the monetary and in-kind services donated by the business community.
Significant donors included Booz Allen Hamilton, L3 STRATIS, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Praxis Engineering, SAIC, TeleCommunication Systems, Axom Technologies Inc., Fort Meade Alliance, Corporate Office Properties, Merritt Construction Services, Tompkins Builders, LG-TEK, Safeguard Maintenance, Tower Federal Credit Union, American Office and Wilhelm Commercial.
“This is the embodiment of what can happen when the U.S. Army - the military - and the community work together,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh during the grand opening ceremony, which also included FGGM Installation Commander Daniel L. Thomas, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Rep. John Sarbanes and other distinguished guests.
The money raised was been used to fill the SFAC with everything from a 20-seat reception area, a handicapped accessible kitchen and bathrooms, a conference and training room and office space to big screen TVs, computers, Wii consoles, couches, desks and decorative pictures that honor the history behind Fort Meade.
This new facility also has a Sesame Street themed children’s room that has been filled with hundreds of books, DVDs, games and toys donated by FMA members.
The Fort Meade Alliance and the regional community are dedicated to providing continued support for the Fort Meade soldiers and their families.
“We're ready to take on our next mission,” said Rosemary Budd, president of the Fort Meade Alliance at the time. “This is the least we can do to thank these soldiers for their sacrifice and service to our nation.”
Photos by John Keith