Colorado Springs will receive the Great American Defense Communities award, one of ten inaugural awards to be given by the organization. The award was announced last month and will be presented later this year in Colorado Springs.

The Great American Defense Communities program was launched this year to acknowledge the contributions of cities, counties or regions that improve the quality of life for military service members, veterans and their families, according to a news release sent by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

“Colorado Springs embodies a patriotic spirit and our military are an integral part of our community,” said Mayor John Suthers. “With five military installations and several major defense-related companies based in Colorado Springs, we recognize the need to provide a strong support system that addresses the unique needs of our men and women in uniform.”

Keith C. Klaehn, chairman of the RBA Military Affairs Council, said the award is a nice accolade as the MAC celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

“We are thrilled our region is being recognized at the national level for its longstanding support of our men and women in uniform and the very important missions they perform around the world on behalf of not only our country, but in fact for all of North America,” Klaehn said.

The MAC is the “four-way intersection of community, government, industry and the military. We offer a hearty congratulations to all for their outstanding contributions.”

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RBA Chief Defense Industry Officer Andy Merritt said, “While we have always known we are a great defense community, it is nice to be acknowledged by our peers through a national organization like the Association of Defense Communities. This award [recognizes] that our whole community supports the men and women in uniform and will continue to do so.”

A panel of defense community advocates and specialists selected the inaugural class of communities from dozens of nominees.

Criteria for the award were based on the efforts a community makes for military personnel and their families, with these main focus areas:

  • Community building and integration;
  • Support and collaboration;
  • Educational and employment opportunities; and
  • Family support.

Other honored cities include Dayton, Ohio; Ft. Leonard Wood region, Missouri; Goldsboro, N.C.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Lawton, Okla.; Flint Hills region, Kan.; Monterey, Calif.; Okaloosa County, Florida; and South Puget Sound, Washington.