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One-third of Lewis-McChorders satisfied with local restaurants and services, and other facts from a base demographic study
The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership just released findings of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Community Needs Survey. This is the first time the local community and Lewis-McChord officials have collaborated to research the demographics, needs and preferences of military personnel in the South Sound region. Over 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 defense department.
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% live in Thurston County.
• Half of military spouses living off-base work outside the home. Another 19% 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 has contributed to significant 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, Lewis-McChord 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 Lewis-McChord 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 Lewis-McChord 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 Lewis-McChord 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 Lewis-McChord 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.
A summary of the survey and its findings can be found at www.jblm-growth.com.
The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership is a regional collaboration dedicated to building thriving military communities. With over 120 partner organizations, SSMCP provides a single point of contact for military-related activity that affects the region as a whole. By streamlining Washington State organizations, agencies, and community communication into one collaborative association, the Partnership is able to support entities that are carrying out recommendations in the Lewis-McChord Growth Coordination Plan, and oversee execution of the actions with one common voice.