Former 412th Test Wing Commander Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert pours coffee for veterans during a Coffee4Vets gathering at Crazy Otto’s Diner in Lancaster. This collaboration between Edwards Air Force Base and the surrounding community, and active veterans organizations, are reasons the Antelope Valley was named a 2022 Great American Defense Community.

The Antelope Valley has been named one of the 2022’s Great American Defense Communities, an honor awarded annually by the Association of Defense Communities.

The Association strives “to promote collaboration and cooperation between military installations and communities,” Program Coordinator Chris Duyos said.

The award was announced at the Defense Communities National Summit in Washington, earlier this month. USAA is the program’s official sponsor.

“We are very excited to honor the Antelope Valley as a 2022 Great American Defense Community,” ADC President Bob Ross said. “The strength of our military starts at home and Antelope Valley is an excellent example of how a community can provide that support.”

Five communities from across the country were selected for this year’s honor. In addition to the Antelope Valley, honorees include Florida’s Space Coast, Northern Virginia, Tullahoma, Tennessee; and the 13 communities around Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, known collectively as West Valley Partners.

Communities apply for the competitive award. The City of Palmdale submitted the application for the Antelope Valley, home to Edwards Air Force Base, Air Force Plant 42, Naval Air Station China Lake and numerous defense-related companies.

“Their application really stood out to us this year,” Communications Director Grace Marvin said.

The Antelope Valley was recognized for its efforts in creating affordable housing, which includes access for veterans and the grassroots work of the Vets4Veterans organization.

This group was founded by veterans to help other veterans with their unique issues, such as transitioning from the military and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Marvin said.

With the “Aerospace Valley” nickname emphasizing its long-standing connection to aerospace development, the region was also recognized for the high level of collaboration with the area’s military bases and defense industry, she said.

“It is truly an honor that the Antelope Valley has been recognized as a 2022 Great American Defense Community,” Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said. “Palmdale has a long and deep relationship with Edwards Air Force Base, Air Force Plant 42 and more than 80 prominent aerospace, commercial space, defense companies and suppliers who to provide our nation with cutting-edge aerospace technology to equip our military forces with the best resources available in their mission of keeping all of us safe and free. The Antelope Valley, also known as Aerospace Valley, is also home to thousands of veterans and military professionals who have the full support and respect of the residents and business community in our region.”

The Great American Defense Communities program began in 2016 to recognize and celebrate those communities and regions that support military installations for their exceptional commitment to improving the lives of service members, veterans and their families.

The 2022 Communities will be highlighted throughout the year in various ways, culminating with special recognition at the Installation Innovation 2022 forum in Phoenix, this fall.

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