Blankenbush Celebrates Fort Drum Day in Albany

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush

Established in 1908, Fort Drum stands as a prominent landmark in Jefferson County. On May 7, three distinguished members of the Fort Drum community joined us in Albany to be recognized for their dedication to the daily operations of the fort. These members include Brigadier General Matt Braman, Command Sergeant Major Nema Mobar and Colonel Matt Myer. Without these leaders, Fort Drum would be unable to operate with such efficiency as it does today.

Brigadier General Matt Braman is a Deputy Commanding General who kept the military side of Fort Drum running this past year while Major General Greg Anderson was stationed in Europe. He is the recipient of the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit for his years of service to this great nation. Brigadier General Braman comes from a line of aviators, prompting him to be commissioned as an aviation officer in 1995. Through years of hard work and dedication, Brigadier General Braman was able to rise through the ranks and preside over the prestigious Fort Drum. We were proud to have him join us in Albany and commended him for his dedication to the U.S. military.

Command Sergeant Major Nema Mobar is a prime example of a non-commissioned officer who made a big impact. In his time at Fort Drum, he was able to transform the way leaders in the military support soldiers in crisis; allowing them access to round-the-clock support systems that would otherwise be unavailable. This program, now named the Mountain CARES program, has been so widely successful that Command Sergeant Major Mobar was asked to brief the Sergeant Major of the Army on service wide implementation. These incredible feats have been enacted by a non-commissioned officer, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are excited to see where the rest of his career takes him.

Colonel Matt Myer is the glue that keeps Fort Drum together as the Garrison Commander of the fort. He is responsible for the everyday operations of the entire garrison, working alongside military and civilian employees. While colonels usually do not have much experience working with civilians, through his ability to build strong, united teams and his humility, he was chosen to lead the Garrison at Fort Drum. Without Colonel Myer, the actions of Brigadier General Braman and Command Sergeant Major Mobar would have been much more difficult. We were honored he was able to join us in Albany and thank him for his years of service.

Senior Command Chaplain & US Army Colonel James Key was the final introduction on this Fort Drum Day. Colonel Key is an incredibly decorated member of the US Army, holding a Bronze Star medal, a meritorious medal and army commendation medal. Colonel Key spent a combat tour in Iraq and has now returned back to Fort Drum. Colonel Key is an incredibly well educated man, getting a Masters in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary as well as a Masters of divinity degree from the Howard University School of Divinity. He continued at Howard University where he got a doctorate degree. Colonel Key is a man of New York, where he has raised his two daughters and written two books. We were honored to have him join us in the Assembly Chamber.

Fort Drum is the largest single-site employer in New York state. In 2023, there were 13,722 soldiers assigned to the fort and 3,877 civilians employed. Overall, Fort Drum economically supports over 75,000 people in the North Country. These local jobs include construction, health, social, educational and agricultural services. The total economic impact of Fort Drum totals $2,542,810,047. The economic impact of Fort Drum is unparalleled in the North Country, and these men honored today are the reason this fort is so successful. While we recognize their military achievement, we must also recognize their effects on the New York state economy and the hundreds of families that have continued employment due to their actions.