Today, at the South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce Annual Summit, Bill Bethea, Chairman of the SC Military Base Task Force, was honored with the coveted 2017 Sgt William Jasper Freedom Award. This award, named for the Revolutionary War patriot, recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the freedom of South Carolina and the nation. Bill, a former US Marine Corps Captain with service in Vietnam, was recognized for his tireless leadership over the past four years as Chairman of the Task Force.
Since March 2013 Bill, along with Executive Coordinator Charlie Farrell and a small group of dedicated volunteers, has led the effort to rejuvenate and greatly expand the scope of the Task Force’s effort to support our military. The Economic Impact Study released by the Task Force in April of this year demonstrates the $24.1B positive impact of the military presence. In fact, one in every twelve jobs in South Carolina is derived from our eight major installations and defense contractors. Working closely with the Legislature, the Task Force has also successfully encouraged the passage of important laws to benefit the service members, veterans, military retirees, and all military families.
The Strategic Plan released last July reflects a thoughtfully considered and well-conceived plan to further enlarge upon its advocacy on behalf of military matters over the next five years.
In late 2016 the Task Force was given the added responsibility to lead the work of the South Carolina Veterans Policy Advisory Committee (“VPAC”). VPAC is charged with the responsibility of analyzing the contributions and needs of over 400,000 veterans in South Carolina, and to report its recommendations to the Governor and the Task Force.
The Task Force recently activated a new website at www.scmilitarybases.com, which serves as a key communications tool to share the important work of the Task Force. Twitter (@SCMilitaryBases) and Facebook (SC Military Base Task Force) further expand its outreach. In conjunction with the Department of Commerce, a newsletter is under development.
The South Carolina Military Base Task Force (“Task Force”) works side-by-side with the states military installations, host communities and the Department of Commerce as it champions the military sector, which represents 8.4 percent of our state’s economy. We are pleased to congratulate Bill and the entire Task Force team on this well-deserved award. We look forward to even greater success in 2018.