In the wake of extensive budget cuts, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has announced a series of program changes that will go into effect in coming months.
Family and Recreational program budgets across the Army will be reduced by $105 million in the 2017 fiscal year, which begins in October. This represents a 23 percent cut from this year's funding level and is expected to drain more than $750,000 from local installation programs, said Col. James Ellerson, Fort Jackson garrison commander.
"As we all know, the Army has moved into a very fiscally constrained environment," Ellerson told the audience during the installation's Community Information Exchange at the NCO Club on Aug. 11. "That means that every major command will take some kind of cut. The things that we were able to do in the past, we will not be able to do in the future because we just won't have the money."
Congress began to appropriate funds for FMWR programs related to readiness in 1989, money that supports fitness and community centers, and libraries. In recent months, Fort Jackson leaders have been evaluating FMWR programs to determine which were most affordable and popular, Ellerson said.
"It's basically a decision that's been made on the senior Army level, the senior levels of Installation Management Command, to use funds that typically have been funding FMWR programs to use them to pay for other, more important priorities," said Fort Jackson FMWR Director Daniel Ahern.
Ellerson said the goal was to disperse budget cuts across all programs in order to preserve as many
programs and services on post as possible.
"We had to make some hard decisions," Ellerson said. "We understand clearly it affects
Fort Jackson's financial impacts are:
n A 23 percent cut to Community Recreation and Non-Appropriated Fund support services funding.
n A 6 percent cut to Child and Youth Services, which can be absorbed without reduction
in services for CYS customers.
n The closure of Andy's Fitness Center at the Solomon Center. The hours for Coleman, Perez and Vanguard gyms will be reduced to 90 hours per week. Ellerson said traffic to the post's four gyms was monitored as part of the evaluation of services on post, and it was determined that Andy's has the fewest customers. Coleman Gym's close proximity to the Solomon Center was also a factor in the
decision, he said. The indoor track at the Solomon Center will remain open.
n Firehouse Productions, an FMWR supported custom production shop, will relocate to the space now occupied by Andy's Fitness Center at the Solomon Center. Firehouse Productions is currently housed in a World War II-era wooden building.
n Reduce hours at the Thomas Lee Hall Library.
"Right now, we have the library open seven days a week, and we're going to reduce that to five days a week," Ellerson said. "We didn't automatically say it's going to be closed on the weekends; we looked at the days that were the least utilized." The library will be closed on Sunday
n The Auto Crafts Center hours will be reduced from five to four days a week.
n The intramural sports program will be re-located to Coleman Gym.
n Recreational trips and delivery services will be reduced or eliminated.
n Legion Pool will be closed in 2017.
"We looked at areas where we had duplication and identified what we can still do on the
installation to have minimal effect to what we do for Families," Ellerson said. Knight
Indoor Pool will remain open.
n The position of chief of the Community Recreation Division will be eliminated.
n Seven staffing reductions will be made in five common support areas. "We're committed to trying
to make placement for anyone who is being affected by the budget cuts," Ahern said. "As positions are being eliminated, we're working diligently to place people in valid vacancies across the directorate, or across the garrison as a whole."
Coleman Gym will also have new management as part of the restructuring, Ellerson said."The recreation team will take over and run Coleman Fitness Center," he said. "It's just a different team that will be running Coleman; it doesn't effect the units in any form or fashion."
The changes are going to be implemented on or around Oct. 1, Ahern said.
"This is simply belt tightening that the Army's going to have to do with FMWR programs,"
Ahern said. "It's happening at every garrison, it's not just specific to Fort Jackson. I'm
actually pleased we won't have a more significant impact across the board, because it could have
been a lot worse."
The original predictions suggested FWMR was looking at a cut around 40-45 percent, he
A silver lining in the coming fiscal year is the prospect of an Army Wellness Center opening
on post, said Col. Eric S. Edwards, commander of Moncrief Army Health Clinic.
Edwards said 23 of 29 locations have already been established as part of the Army Wellness
Program, and it's probable one of the remaining sites will open on Fort Jackson during
the next fiscal year. Dedicated to promoting healthy living and the prevention of illness and
disease, Army Wellness Centers have already show to have had a 97 percent satisfaction rate with
"The target audience for the Army Wellness Program includes that of our permanent party personnel here on Fort Jackson, their Family members, Department of the Army Civilians and retirees," Edwards said. "We've gauged the staffing and equipment lever to support a population of what they
call a 'medium-sized post' ... of between 30,000 and 70,000 people."
Fort Jackson is now in the process of selecting a site for the center, which would be under
the guidance of Moncrief Army Health Clinic.
"We suspect that, by the end of August, we'll know what building they're going to occupy,"