CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fort Campbell is home to elite special operations forces and the famed 101st Airborne Air Assault division. The Screaming Eagles, as they’re known, have been integral in operations from D-Day to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Fort Campbell is a fantastic place to be; it’s a small city that’s located in a great place,” said Colonel Jeremy Bell, Garrison Commander at Fort Campbell. “I think from a Garrison perspective, we are the support mechanism for this installation. Everybody comes and goes on the operational unit side, but the Garrison stays. We provide that support, that continuity, that synchronization of facilities, of infrastructure, support for our soldiers. We try to make the experience here on Fort Campbell the best possible experience for our soldiers, our families and our retirees.”
An estimated 26,000 soldiers operate out of Fort Campbell, but its outreach is much larger when you count family members, civilian employees and retirees.
“When you measure the total impact of the population that lives outside the gates in mortgages, in taxes, etc., the actual impact (on) Tennessee was about 10.1 billion dollars,” Bell said.
Bell said Fort Campbell and the City of Clarksville are deeply intertwined. He said the installation feels fully supported by the community and even has a service agreement with the city for animal control and possibly other services to come in the future.
“These are all partnerships that both sides get benefit from. On the Fort Campbell side, we usually get an arrangement where we spend less, and on the community side, they get to provide the services and beef up their workforce,” Bell said.
Most of Fort Campbell’s population, 66 percent, lives off the installation, so their everyday lives are lived in Clarksville and surrounding communities. Thirty percent of students in the Clarksville Montgomery County School System are from military families.
“I’ve lived and worked in a lot of places around the world, and I’ve never seen a stronger partnership between an installation and its community,” Bell said.
Bell said Fort Campbell soldiers are deploying every day, all across the world, so knowing the support is there for their families at home is comforting.
“I think it all comes down to the people, the relationships,” Bell said. “Tennesseans are hugely welcoming, but I also think there’s more to it. I think the community wants to support its soldiers, and that’s tangible.”
Fort Campbell received a $7.7 million grant from the Department of Labor last year to establish a career center. It helps soldiers and their spouses transition from the military to civilian jobs.
News 2 is digging deeper into the growth of Clarksville and the impact it has on communities in Middle Tennessee. We explore “Clarksville: The Good, The Bad, The Future” all day Thursday in every newscast. Click here for more.