The liaison organization between Barksdale Air Force Base and the Shreveport-Bossier community is preparing to roll out a $100,000 scholarship program for Barksdale airmen enrolled in college programs. The Shreveport-Bossier Military Affairs Council raised the dollars in haste when it learned that the military tuition assistance program would be cut due to automatic spending cuts by Congress. The tuition assistance has since been reinstated. Military Affairs Council president John Atkins said his board is trying to be responsive at a time when the military is faced with the brunt of federal budget cuts.
“As those needs develop, and as our friends on base communicate needs to us, we develop programs to fill those needs," he said. "We’re like any other nonprofit organization. You have to stay flexible these days.”
The Military Affairs Council has stayed nimble during sequestration. Its most visible project, the Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Air Show, was canceled last month. It was set to be held the first weekend of May. Atkins said the council will continue to fund the air show’s executive director position, even though the federal budget is still in flux.
"We at the MAC and at Barksdale Air Force Base do not view ourselves as being out of the air show business. We expect to have another air show in 2014, and the same type of quality air show that we’ve always had," Atkins said.
The Military Affairs Council of Shreveport-Bossier raises $250,000 annually to help fund the air show, according to Atkins. The two-day air show draws about 150,000 spectators. The show sponsors were offered the opportunity to take back their financial donations this year, Atkins said. But many individual donor opted to defer their contribution to benefit next year’s air show.