Tampa Bay has been selected as one of five cities nationwide to receive the 2018 Great American Defense Community designation. On February 15th, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce will host the 20th Annual Military Appreciation Awards at Raymond James Stadium, where the Association of Defense Communities will exclusively announce Tampa Bay’s reception of this prestigious award. “We are so appreciative of the support we receive from the Tampa Bay community,” said Colonel April D. Vogel, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander. “When military members move here, they're not just moving to a city, they're moving to a place they feel comfortable calling "home." This community provides remarkable support to our Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and their families and I'm excited this community is being recognized!” In a joint effort, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance nominated Tampa Bay for the program based on community initiatives that create a high quality of life for military families. The Chamber thanks Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio, and Representative Kathy Castor for their letters of support to recognize Tampa as a Great American Defense Community. “We are grateful that Tampa Bay has been recognized as a community that embraces and supports our military, veterans, and their families” said Lisa Monnet, President of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance. Selected communities are recognized nationally for their exceptional commitment to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families as a model for all communities. Tampa Bay’s application included community initiatives like the Chamber’s Operation Partnership program, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Salute to Service initiatives, and Tinker Elementary School. "We are excited that Tampa Bay is being recognized as a model military community” said president and CEO Bob Rohrlack. “This award is a reflection of our community’s ongoing dedication to our military, veterans and their families.” Great American Defense Communities The Great American Defense Communities program was designed by the Association of Defense Communities in conjunction with the House and Senate Defense Communities Caucuses to recognize and celebrate communities whose exceptional commitment to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families as a model for all communities.