On Friday, I had the opportunity to visit Fort Riley and learn more about the incredible infrastructure on base and our amazing soldiers in the Big Red One. Brigadier General Donald MacWillie, the Senior Commander on Fort Riley, was a gracious host. We had the chance to meet over breakfast and discuss the importance of Fort Riley to the greater Central Flint Hill Region, notably creating a total direct economic impact of $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. Equally, the Central Flint Hills community is vital to the quality of life for our soldiers serving in the 1st Infantry Division. Fort Riley is becoming the "most modernized" Division in the Army. The Combat Aviation Brigade is the most advanced in the Army with capabilities including the new unmanned aircraft "Grey Eagle." The Division is also fielding the most effective tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in the world, the "Main Battle Tank" and the "Bradley."
Fort Riley is not only taking care of its soldiers with the latest and greatest equipment, but the brand new, state of art Mission Training Complex is dedicated to simulation training and is the very first of its kind in the Army. It's an innovative training complex for joint, inter-agency, inter-governmental, multi-national personnel in the United States and potentially around the world. Over 18,000 personnel from 24 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, France and Poland have trained or are scheduled to train there in fiscal year 2012. The Mission Training Complex is an outstanding training capability for soldiers, and because it is the very first in the Army, many others outside of Kansas are flocking to Fort Riley to train and enhance their readiness. As a Member of the Senate Army Caucus and Senate Military Families Caucus, I believe that improving soldier readiness with equipping and training is equally important to taking great care of soldiers and their families. I was able to receive a sneak-peek of the brand new Seitz Elementary School and see where a new middle school is planned to be built as well.
Fort Riley will also be home to the new Irvin Army Community Hospital, scheduled to open in June 2014. At a total of 550,000 square feet, the new hospital is 170,000 square feet larger than the current facility and will hold 2,400 more occupational therapy patients. There will also be a dedicated unit to our soldiers in need of behavioral health services, focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. In addition to this enormous medical center, I'm proud to hear about the partnership between Fort Riley and the Kansas State University College of Human Ecology with the development of the Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families and Partner Programs. The partnership has created research, academic, clinical services, community outreach and education programs dedicated to the health and well-being of our military families. Fort Riley is doing wonderful things to take care of our soldiers and I was honored to spend time with Brigadier General MacWillie and learn about all these wonderful developments.