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Leaders Kick off Armed Services Week Amidst Concerns for Future

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Monday morning, July 22, local government and military leaders in Huntsville kicked off Armed Forces Week 2013 with the signing of a proclamation declaring it.

It’s designed to be a happy week, but it comes at a very uncertain time for the military.

Just after nine o’clock at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Major General Lynn Collyar was all smiles accepting a copy of the proclamation, signed by Mayors Tommy Battle of Huntsville, Troy Trulock of Madison and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

But his smile faded as he addressed the current painful state of affairs for the U.S. military.

“The next couple of years are going to be very difficult as we move into the second year of sequestration and what that means to us,” said Collyar.

He referred to the furlough days and the traffic backup caused by the closure of gates and reduction of staff on each friday due to furloughs through the end of august.

“It has an impact on not only our service members but mainly those civilians that work to support us every single day,” Collyar said.

He said the theme of this week is “Strong and Resilient”.  It was personified, perhaps, by a 90-year-old World War Two veteran of Huntsville sitting in the audience.

H.W. Crumrine knows a possible reduction in force in 2014 will hurt.

“It’s a real sad affair for a lot of people,” said Crumrine.

Given the hardships now and coming for the military, this week is more important now than ever.

“Very uplifting,” said Colonel Bill Marks, the new Garrison Commander at Redstone Arsenal.
“It sorta underscores the dedication and sacrifice those families and service members put forth everyday.”

There are a series of events planned this week to acknowledge the military, their contribution to the defense of the country and to our local economy — beginning with a free performance by the Army Materiel Command Band in the South Hall of the Von Braun Center at 6:30.  WHNT NEWS 19’s own Steve Johnson will be the emcee.

People should still bring chairs to sit in, as there are none in the South Hall. The concert will conclude with a fireworks show at 8:30.