Pentagon’s push for deep military cuts could have big Metro-East impact

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by Craig Cheatham / News 4 | @CheathamKMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 9:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 9:20 PM

 (KMOV) – The pentagon is pushing for deep cuts to military which could shrink the Army to its smallest size in 74 years with losing 80,000 soldiers.

The military and its contractors are big employers in the St. Louis area and nowhere in the region is that impact felt more than in the Metro East which depends heavily on Scott Air Force Base.

About 13,000 people work at Scott Air Force Base with 1,100 of them eligible for “voluntary separation” agreements, but a base spokesperson said that more cuts are needed to meet the defense department’s goals.

They just don’t know how deep those cuts will be.

When you are building homes near Scott Air Force Base you are often building them for the men and women who work there.

“I would say that 75 to 80-percent of the homes that we sell come from Scott Air Force Base,” said Josh Buck. He added that they are for those who work at the base, both military and civilian.

Josh Buck is a project manager and designer for New Tradition Homes, which builds about 30 houses a year. Deep cuts to the military, especially at Scott, would directly affect him, the company, and the people who work for them and the businesses where they shop.

The cuts will also be felt by retirees like Larry Johnson, an Air Force vet, who believes the military is getting an unfair share of cuts while other programs are getting fatter.

The recommendations made by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel include limiting pay raises to one-percent, increase health care premiums, reducing housing allowances, and slash subsidies for commissaries that provide discount supplies to vets, service members and their families.

Josh Buck knows the deep connection between military, family and community. His brother is active military, his father is a vet, and he makes much of his living off people who serve our country. Now, he wonders what impact the latest and deepest round of cuts will have.

"It's always a concern,” said Buck.

Fort Leonard Wood in southern Missouri is expected to lose 1,000 soldiers. Those cuts will be made by the end of 2015.

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