By Sgt. Christopher Milbrodt
53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team
LAKELAND, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2013) – Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, along with local community leaders and state legislators rededicated two Army National Guard armories January 12. The Lakeland armory is 39-years-old, while the Dade City armory is 58.
The rededications are a small step in the renovation and modernizing of 51 out of the 61 armories throughout Florida. The Florida Armory Revitalization Program ensures the facilities are as energy efficient as possible and in serviceable condition. If the current fiscal budget for this program of $15 million per year is maintained, all 51 armories will be completed by 2016. Both armories are home to Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment from the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The ceremonies were a chance for state and local leaders to show their support of Florida’s National Guard Soldiers.
“Visiting facilities like this and meeting with all of you remind us that the mission of the Guard is ever more critical and ever more deserving of our support,” said Carroll. “Repairing these armories is important to ensure our great state of Florida has the facilities she needs to protect the people of Florida.”
“Some states have not been able to fund armory renovation at all, and some of them have had to be closed or condemned and removed from their books,” said Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, the Adjutant General of Florida. “We are not going to be caught in that kind of situation, we are going to supply our Soldiers with modernized, adequate facilities.”
Upon arrival at both armories, Carroll and other distinguished visitors such as district 18 Senator Wilton Simpson, the Mayor of Dade City Camille Hernandez, the Mayor of Lakeland Gau Fields, and Lakeland City Commissioner Phillip Walker were treated to tours of the facilities as well as a chance to talk with the Soldiers of 2-116th. The visitors expressed their appreciation for the local armories and the Soldiers, which demonstrates the integration of the National Guard into the community.
Each ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting followed by an abundance of handshakes and high-fives.
“The over-all strength of the National Guard is how we are deployed in the communities,” said Titshaw. “These armories are not only about the Soldiers’ usage, but have become touchstones where the local community feels like stake-holders in the facility and organization.”