In 1995, we received word that a BRAC—base realignment and closure—was on the table for Pittsburgh’s 911th Airlift Wing, a part of the Air Force Reserve. At this time, the Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania (MACWPA) was not a formal organization. Instead, we were a group of concerned citizens that saw this BRAC as a threat to our region’s economy for our communities and a significant missed opportunity for the military.
From our vantage point, we saw how the 911th integrated with our community, and we also saw a wealth of opportunities for local businesses, organizations, as well as other local military units to collaborate and elevate everyone involved.
At that time, we informally gathered over a hundred volunteers and began conducting research and advocating locally and nationally. We soon attracted the attention and support of Governor Tom Ridge as well as other key political figures. We testified at multiple hearings, locally as well as in Washington DC, and worked on multiple fronts to educate the military and the public on the value of having the 911th in Western Pennsylvania and in turn the unique resources that the region could provide to the 911th.
Thanks to the support of our passionate volunteers, the voices of community leaders, and the willingness for military officials to listen to and collaborate with our community, the 911th was saved.
Amidst our celebration, we recognized that Western Pennsylvania needed a formal advocate for a military presence in our region, which led to the formal incorporation of MACWPA as a 501c3 organization. Since that first BRAC in 1995, we have responded to other BRAC announcements and threats to the stability of the military presence in Western Pennsylvania. We have also expanded our mission to providing continual support and advocacy for community to military relationships and partnerships.
Today, we work to find new ways for businesses and our military to work together, we organize volunteers to support and run events, and we advocate for veteran’s assistance programs.