By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald

Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, highlighted some of the key aspects of Fort Hood’s relationship with the community at a Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday.

There are currently 19,000 soldiers deployed from Fort Hood, said Campbell, and within the next three months, those stationed in Iraq will return home.

“About 12,000 of that will be coming back to Fort Hood to get reintegrated and, in some cases, buy homes… and get back into the local economy and do the great things that soldiers do to support the local economy and that’s what we want them to do,” he said.

Campbell mentioned some of the work being done on post to care for soldiers coming home, including the addition of an outpatient clinic and improvements to the traumatic brain injury clinic.

“We are going to be living with the wounds of war for a significant, long time,” said Campbell. “It’s important that we, as senior leaders … step up and recognize that and do something to make sure that we provide services for our soldiers and their families.”

Meanwhile, Campbell said there are also units on post deployed and preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. By next summer, he anticipates only 5,000 soldiers will be deployed from Fort Hood, putting the number of troops home at one of the highest marks in years.

Campbell took time to lay out his goals for Fort Hood as federal budget cuts loom. He said he plans to push forward to get funding on construction that already has been started, such as the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, Hood Stadium and the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s campus, as well as future construction that relates to training.

Off post, he emphasized his support on community projects, including a second runway at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, a co-use recreational park and new highway expansions in Killeen and Copperas Cove.

John Crutchfield, chamber president, said updates from the commander are important because of the strong presence Fort Hood has in the area.

“We have to collaborate to solve some of the problems and take advantage of opportunities,” he said.