Three years ago this month, the Air Force announced plans to move a squadron of F-22 Raptors and approximately 800-1000 associated jobs to Tyndall AFB. The transition is beginning to take place as many military members and families are now preparing to move to Bay County.
Thursday, a delegation of 17 Bay County has arrived at Holloman AFB in New Mexico to reach out to the relocating military members and their in a special way.
The Bay Defense Alliance organized the trip with the help of the Bay County Chamber Military Affairs Committee, Bay District Schools, FSU-PC, Gulf Coast State College, the Workforce Center, Bay Medical Center, Tyndall AFB, and others. BDA President Tom Neubauer noted that, "As the group began to plan the trip last year, we learned the top concerns for many of those making the move include education, spousal employment, housing and medical care."
To help with this initiative, community experts will meet with Alamogordo community leaders, commanders and relocating military members. Superintendent of Schools, Bill Husfelt, and BDS specialists are traveling with the delegation knowing that a large number of additional students will soon become part of the Bay District Schools.
Husfelt noted, "We have an outstanding opportunity to make the transition a little easier for parents and students by assisting with pre]registration, providing current information and easy access to the many resources accessible on the Bay District Schools website."
The overall purpose of the planned visit is to help alleviate some of the stresses often associated with relocation by delivering useful information to military personnel and families relocating to Florida from Alamogordo, NM. According to Bay County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee Chairman Al McCambry, the exercise will also help our community become more aware of specific challenges faced by relocating military members, revealing additional opportunities to provide support.
The travelers also include Dr. Ken Shaw, Dean of Florida State University Panama City Campus, who is also a Bay Defense Alliance member. Dr. Shaw remains focused on keeping the strong positive growth at FSU-PC on track.
Military members who continually improve their careers through education are an important part of the student population at FSU-PC, GCSC and institutions represented at Tyndall's education center.
Spousal employment is also a major concern for many families. Maria Goodwin and Jeanette Deatherage will host one of several roundtables scheduled for Friday, July 26th, representing the Workforce Center. The employment effort for military spouses is reflected by the passage of Florida legislation following recommendations by the Florida Defense Support Task Force, by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Scott, who included a brief welcome message to the group. The law is one of many new initiatives by the state to ensure that Florida remains top of mind among the most defense]friendly states in the country.
Presenters will also offer an overview of medical care available at the Tyndall clinic and in the local community. Short and long term housing options, community services, arts and recreation will round out the series of roundtables, offering these future Bay County families information on all aspects of their new community.
Bay Defense Alliance Board member Glen McDonald noted, "every time we met, this energetic group came up with new ideas. Recently, for example, Representative Jimmy Patronis was quick to address concerns about the need for military members to obtain a Florida driver's license. Patronis was assisted by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles, which now plans to deploy a special DMV van dubbed FLOW (Florida Licensing on Wheels) to Tyndall to accommodate the request. "At the end of the day, airmen moving to Florida will know Bay County is a defense friendly community, genuinely appreciative of our military and the families who support them."
Information provided by the Bay Defense Alliance