Families of Army 7th Special Forces Group still settling into new home

green beret nwfdn special

A Green Beret with the 1st Battalion of the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) fast-ropes from an MH-60 helicopter.

Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE — One year after the official opening of the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) cantonment, about 6,000 people, including soldiers and their families, have made Northwest Florida their home.

Buildings that were empty when the cantonment officially opened with a ribbon-cutting and open house Oct. 14, 2011, are now filled at the $255-million, state-of-the-art installation. Construction crews are building a chapel and finishing an overpass across State Road 85 to relieve traffic congestion near the entrance to the sprawling campus.

The 2,200-plus soldiers and their families, who were uprooted from their longtime home at Fort Bragg, N.C., are starting to settle in to the area, which has deep ties with the Air Force but until now hasn’t seen a large Army presence.

Although the transition has had its share of growing pains, the cantonment and the community seem a perfect match for the Special Forces Group, officials say.

“It was great forethought by the people who made that decision because this place offers us so much, from training opportunities to the room we have to grow,” said Lt. Col. James Brownlee with the group’s public affairs office. “When it comes to doing our mission and being able to be trained and prepared, this is the best thing that could have happened to us.”

Economists, in turn, say the Special Forces Group has been one of the biggest boons for the area since the recession hit in 2008. They estimate the group pumped $506 million into the local economy in 2011, and will have contributed about $517 million more this year.

The effort to adjust



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