The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership (SSMCP) just released findings of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Community Needs Survey.
This is the first time the local community and JBLM officials have collaborated to research the demographics, needs and preferences of military personnel in the South Sound region. More than 3,250 military personnel, reservist, family members and Department of Defense civilians responded to the SSMCP-sponsored study, making it the largest ever conducted by a community group in support of the DoD.
The study answered a number of questions frequently posed by over 120 public and private agencies that make up SSMCP and its 14 Steering Committee members. Highlights include:
- 77 percent of active duty respondents have been deployed. Of those, one third have been deployed more than three times.
- 45 percent of respondents who plan to transition out of the military within five years would like to remain in the region.
- 64 percent of off-base active duty members and their families live in Pierce County. 32 percent live in Thurston County.
- Half of military spouses living off-base work outside the home. Another 19 percent are looking for work.
- 50 percent of respondents living off-base are uncomfortable with their childcare options.
- Only 35 percent of on-base respondents are satisfied with off-base commercial options for restaurants and services.
- 40 percent of active duty respondents living off-base own their home.
Joint-basing between Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base - located only a few miles from Gig Harbor- has contributed to some growth in Pierce and Thurston Counties. In fact, the base has grown 47 percent in less than a decade and is now Washington state’s third largest employer, with over $4.5 billion in payroll alone. Today, JBLM has increased demands in the region, including transportation, housing, employment, health and childcare that frequently challenge the capacity of the region.
SSMCP Co-Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy praised the survey stating, “This survey is giving decision makers valuable data that will allow our region to better coordinate with JBLM and our common goals to support our service members and protect our vital freight and strategic mobility corridor.”
Ranking House Armed Services Committee Member Congressman Adam Smith, who’s district includes JBLM said “I am pleased that the South Sound Military Communities Partnership and its many members from the South Sound came together to conduct this important needs survey. It is clear our region and state will continue to be a positive partner for our service members.”
This survey is very unique and gives South Sound communities the data necessary to make decisions that will ensure our service members and the needs of JBLM are taken into consideration when it comes to schools, housing and transportation needs. SSMCP Co-Chair and City of Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson noted, “This survey confirmed some of our communities’ assumptions of where the bulk of the 40,000+ service members at JBLM live and their major concerns. Hearing directly from them, we now have a better understanding of where to allocate resources to enhance services and protect this installation in the future.