Fort Leonard Wood's impact on Phelps and surrounding counties cannot be overstated. On Thursday morning, Commanding General Kent Savre showcased the Fort, as the keynote speaker at a breakfast sponsored by the local organization, Phelps for the Fort.

Fort Leonard Wood’s impact on Phelps and surrounding counties cannot be overstated. On Thursday morning, Commanding General Kent Savre showcased the Fort, as the keynote speaker at a breakfast sponsored by the local organization, Phelps for the Fort (PFTF).

Coordinated by Stevie Kearse and the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, the breakfast was held at Matt’s Steakhouse, and attended by approximately 85 members and guests. PFTF President Kevin Greven welcomed the crowd and introduced the eighteen local officials and business leaders in attendance. AUSA’s Rick Morris introduced Major General Savre.

“Our most precious resource are our soldiers and families,” Savre’s opening remarks began. We’ve been at war for sixteen years, “the longest war in our nation’s history. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, all over the world, we are in harm’s way.” He believes that soldiers currently serving “may be the best generation we’ve ever had” in spite of the negative press about cell-phone touting youth. In spite of controversy, and “although we haven’t fully lived up to it, the United States is still the best idea in the world. It still stands for equality. We are not making soldiers, we are making better citizens. We develop them to push themselves mentally and physically and to prove to themselves that they have the capability,” he continued.

“You may never know the full impact of Fort Leonard Wood on the community. Soldiers go to college here, retire here. If you come to Fort Leonard Wood, you can get your Master’s degree; schools are close enough and willing to make it happen. We have a great relationship with PCRMC and Missouri S&T,” Savre continued.

“80,000 soldiers and leaders graduate from the Fort per year; some are only here for a two week course, while others may be here six months; “there is a continuous stream of people coming through,” Savre explained.  There are 36,000 people on Fort Leonard Wood on any given day; with 150,000 visitors attending graduations, per year. The Fort is a top employer in the state of Missouri, with a 400 million operating budget, including civilian salaries.

Soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood are serving in the recent natural disasters. “We sent twenty officers to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and they are doing great work.  The Fort is the largest joint base, with a huge Air Force and Navy contingent,” Savre adds.

When asked how the community may better support the Fort, Savre thought carefully. “Acceptance of our children,” he states. His own family is in their 21st house, and described the impact on a child. “The coach doesn’t know you, the teachers don’t know you.” His wife is a teacher, and with each state may be new requirements in order to teach. It is often difficult to seek employment as family of an Army soldier; employers may not wish to hire someone who will be uprooted in a couple of years. “Don’t think of us as moving through. Think of us as a permanent part of your team, just the faces will change every few years.”

Now in his 33rd year of military service, Major General Savre has been the Commanding General at Fort Leonard Wood and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence since April, 2015.  Originally from Minnesota, Savre has served in Kosovo, Desert Storm, and Iraq.  Previous commands include the North Atlantic Division Corp of Engineering; he was responsible for all recovery operations during Hurricane Sandy. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (with Five Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Parachutist Badge, and Army Staff Identification Badge.

“You are our community,” Savre stated. “May the mutually beneficial relationship between the community and Fort Leonard Wood strengthen and enlarge, and may the Fort remain in caring and competent hands.”