By Matt Baird
Many new efforts have been generated over recent months with the Lee’s Summit Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee. Their purpose is to bridge the gap between the City of Lee’s Summit and Whiteman Air Force Base.
Disseminating valuable information to community members in order to better understand the impact of Whiteman Air Force Base – both economically and emotionally – is the committee’s main objective. From picnics to deployments and receptions to galas, the committee ensures that the men and women from the 509 Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) is receiving the appreciation they clearly deserve.
Every third Thursday of the month, a group of dedicated Chamber members come together to help make Lee’s Summit a great place for our military personnel to call home and feel welcome. The members are made up of veterans and non-veterans all passionate about our service men and women.
“The Military Affairs Committee has made great strides in their relationship this year with our sister squadron on Whiteman Air
Force base, the 509th Civil Engineers Squadron. As we work with the Base Community Council we’ve really focused on building a solid foundation to support the troops first. An essential part of bridging the gap between the Chamber and Whiteman has been Jim Hallam and his continuous efforts on the committee; as well as, the efforts of several others. There are ample opportunities for Chamber members to get involved!” – Joel Wilson, 2019 Military Affairs Committee Chair
During these meetings they hear from a representative of the 509 CES as well as representatives from other community and civic organizations. The topics of discussion are usually focused on how the Chamber can better assist the squadron but other times they hear from organizations that are representing our men in women in uniform.
The committee recently put together an initial allotment of gift bags for the new airmen joining the squadron. Bags are filled with everything “Lee’s Summit” from coupons to maps and visitor guides, to gift cards from businesses located in Lee’s Summit, all of which have donated to these efforts.
The bags are given to incoming families of the squadron inviting them to Lee’s Summit as an ongoing effort. Airmen who have been recognized for an award are also given a LS gift bag. The committee is currently working on a window decal that allows businesses in Lee’s Summit that they offer discounts to military active duty and veterans to highlight and post in their window as a welcome.
The great thing about this relationship is that members of the squadron are also helping the Chamber. At Oktoberfest, the airmen provide a color guard and singer for the national anthem. They also allow volunteers to cover shifts during the event as well as for event tear down. As opportunities continue to arise, the stronger the relationship will become. Chamber members are welcome to join the committee and help make a difference for our community and the those serving in uniform.