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Fort Eisenhower in GA could be considered a SC military installation


Fort Eisenhower in GA could be considered a SC military installation

Apr 16, 2024 | 7:34 am ET
By Abraham Kenmore
Fort Eisenhower in GA could be considered a SC military installation
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 11th Cyber Battalion work their way through the Advanced Rifle Marksmanship range at Fort Eisenhower on Jan. 25, 2024. (U.S. Army courtesy photo by 1st Lt. Angeline Tritschler)

COLUMBIA — Fort Eisenhower in Augusta, Georgia, could be designated a South Carolina military installation under legislation that would make Palmetto State communities where many of its families live eligible for state grants.

The bill adding Fort Eisenhower to the list of qualifying military installations is advancing in the Senate after passing the House unanimously last May.

It’s up for debate Tuesday by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

The legislation would enable local governments in South Carolina that are near Fort Eisenhower — located about 10 miles from the state border — to apply for state funding for projects that support military families, including for recreation and education programs.

The bill doesn’t specify which local governments, but Aiken County is just on the other side of the Savannah River. It’s sponsored by GOP Rep. Bill Hixon of North Augusta.

“We have not discussed any specific projects with the local governments in Aiken but have discussed the grant process with them,” said Sandy Claypoole, director of military affairs  for the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in an email. “The request to add Fort Eisenhower came from city/county leaders who … realized they were not eligible for Military Enhancement Funds because the installation wasn’t actually located in SC.”

The Legislature created the grant program in 2021 with $8 million to support an installation’s longevity and help make South Carolina’s bases more appealing for military families. In all, legislators have allocated $25.5 million total for grants that are distributed by Veterans’ Affairs, according to the agency.

The House budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year puts an additional $10 million toward the fund, which is what the agency requested. The plan to be taken up next week by the Senate, however, would instead send an additional $2 million.

Two men in dress green Army uniforms flank two women in formal dress. In front of them is a marble plinth with a bronze bust of former president Dwight Eisenhower
From the left, Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, commanding general of Fort Eisenhower; Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower; Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth; and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Starrett reveal a bust of the late president, Army Gen. Eisenhower, during the Oct. 27, 2023, redesignation of what was Fort Gordon. (File/Spc. Caeli Morris/U.S. Army)

Projects awarded grants last year include oyster reefs along the coast at Parris Island to prevent erosion, construction at the Shaw Sumter Welcome Center, and temporary housing for firefighters stationed at McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

Veterans Affairs supports the bill, Joseph McLamb, the agency’s chief of staff, said during last week’s Senate subcommittee hearing.

He cited the economic benefits of Fort Eisenhower to South Carolina and the collaboration between the installation and the South Carolina National Guard. According to him, up to a third of the base’s workers live in South Carolina, though the actual number is unknown.

Fort Eisenhower, which was named Fort Gordon until last October, is home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command.

The base has about 16,200 military service members and about 14,500 civilian employees, according to a spokesperson for the installation. Fort Eisenhower does not keep a breakdown of how many live in South Carolina versus Georgia.