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You have seen the construction. You heard rumblings of other installations closing or growing. You may have noticed reduced parking and even heard of the term BRAC. So what is all the hype? What exactly is going on? What is BRAC and how is it affecting our installation and community?

BRAC is an acronym that stands for Base Realignment and Closure. It is the congressionally authorized process the Department of Defense has previously used to reorganize its base structure to more efficiently and effectively support our forces, increase operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business.

All BRAC related moves had to be completed by Sept. 15, 2011. For Fort Detrick and the surrounding community this has meant continual growth in employment opportunities, local businesses booming, construction that seems to never end, infrastructure changes, competitive education programs and community redevelopment.

Total employment growth at Fort Detrick may not be seen immediately. With new facilities either being built or already completed, it is anticipated that we will see over 1,200 new jobs by 2018. There are several BRAC associated construction projects that directly impact Fort Detrick.

In 2010 The Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center opened their doors on Area B. It is the home to the Army Reserve, National Guard and Marine Corps Reserve units. They have been in full swing since then and are always occupied.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine is expecting to open their doors this month. The museum is able to give visitors a unique perspective on health and medicine because it is one of the few places where the public can actually see the effects of disease on the human body. Recently the museum and Fort Detrick wanted to celebrate their partnership by bringing the amputated lower leg bones of General Daniel Sickles for display in the headquarters building. For months curious on-goers stopped by to see the leg of the General who killed the son of Francis Scott Key.

The Joint Center of Excellence for Medical Research, Development and Acquisition building which will house personnel from Navy and will be a collocated work space with the Chemical Biological Defense, Joint Project Manager for Chemical Biological Medical Systems is near completion. This center of excellence will utilize the medical research activities currently at Fort Detrick and build on that core expertise in medical biological defense.

Lastly, the Navy Medical Research Center's Biological Defense Research. This building will be part of the National Interagency Biodefense Campus and plans are to have this facility up and operating in the very near future.

The influx of new personnel will require substantial planning both internally and externally. With new people comes the desire to provide better roads, competing school districts, emergency services, federal and state funded programs and housing opportunities. As Fort Detrick continues to be an economic engine in Frederick County and one of the largest employers our staff and programs are certainly no exception as they continue to reach beyond the fence and provide input and substance to these efforts. The effects of BRAC in Frederick County and the surrounding counties are just starting to rumble. In fact they will be felt here in many years to come.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development reports that the military installations in Maryland create and over $36 billion impact, which represents 7.5% of the State's economic activity. One project in particular that officials have been working tirelessly on is the US15/Monocacy Blvd. This project is over half way complete and once complete will allow Monocacy Boulevard to cross over US 15 and create an east-west connection. The current plan addresses current and future traffic demands related to development and growth in the region. Everyone involved is continuing to explore means to secure the funds to implement the project.

Since many affected by BRAC are moving to Maryland from other states, The Maryland State Department of Education continues to evolve and focus on ensuring that students are prepared to seek highly skilled science, technology, engineering and math. Currently the Fort Detrick STEM program and the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science - Young Engineers and Scientists reaches out and works directly with Frederick and Washington Counties.. In the past summer alone both programs sparked an interest in science to over 1,200 students.

The bottom line is BRAC is playing a significant part of our lives here in Maryland and we can all reap the benefits. Fort Detrick may not be the big headliner in all the moving parts but what happens here will continue to affect outside the fence. As we move towards the next phases and the pieces continue to come our way, think to ourselves, we are an Army Community of Excellence.