Two Mercer County residents with ties to the Armed Forces have founded the Mercer County Military Action Council (MCMAC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the service members and the mission of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL), as well as active-duty personnel, reservists, guardsmen, veterans and their respective families living in local towns.
Regina Arcuri of Robbinsville and William “Bill” Cleave of Pennington, both honorary commanders at JB MDL, created this nonprofit organization in January. They joined forces with Alan Gilmore, an attorney from Pennington, and David A. Lauer, CPA of Hamilton, to complete the council’s executive board, according to information provided by MCMAC.
Arcuri, chairwoman of MCMAC, encourages Mercer County area business owners, local government officials and residents to join the organization.
“We need a military support organization here in Mercer County not only to support the service members and the mission of the base, but also to inform local businesses that they can tap into a highly skilled and responsible workforce,” she said in the statement.
Arcuri has been active in other military support organizations based in Ocean and Burlington counties for years. She soon realized that many military families live and work in Mercer County, many of whom silently struggle to fit into their adopted (and often temporary) communities, she said in the statement.
“These families would benefit from a military support organization located close to home,” she said in the statement. “Supporting the base and these families helps everyone who lives in our county. We all need each other.”
Cleave, vice chairman of the organization, noted that his father served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, including the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach, and then in the reserves during the Korean War. His parents, he said, taught him to honor the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform and their families.
“Helping to establish this organization is my way of paying it forward,” he said in the statement.
Both Arcuri, who retired last year as a deputy director of New Jersey Lottery after more than 30 years with the state agency, and Cleave, co-owner of Flagship Insurance Agency in Pennington, have been involved in the Honorary Commander Program at JB MDL for several years, according to the statement. Arcuri joined the installation’s first group of honorary commanders inducted into the emeritus program when it was created in 2017.
The purpose of the Honorary Commander Program is to increase public awareness of the installation’s mission and to foster a supportive relationship between military commanders and civic leaders. The goal is to educate civilian volunteers on the various missions of each service branch and to encourage communication between installation commanders and surrounding towns. Honorary commanders are required to complete condensed training exercises that mimic those of service members in their respective branches, tour base operations to learn the mission of each branch, attend base ceremonies, and spend time with service members to understand how local communities can better assist them, according to the statement.
MCMAC will allow Arcuri and Cleave to continue the important work of communicating the base’s mission and goals, as well as the needs of service members and military families, to its membership, who, in turn, will further the message to their friends and family, according to the statement.
Arcuri said it has been their privilege to serve as honorary commanders.
“Through that program Bill and I became acutely aware of the base’s economic impact on New Jersey,” Arcuri said in the statement. “It’s now up to MCMAC to educate local government officials, business leaders and residents as to how they can help maintain this valuable asset that benefits all of us.”
Gilmore, of The Gilmore Firm LLC, serves as secretary of the organization, while Lauer serves as treasurer.
“Joining MCMAC is an easy way to show that you care about the people who help to protect our country,” Gilmore said in the statement, adding that his father was a Marine who fought in the Pacific Rim during World War II. “His service is a source of pride that should be recognized by everyone and should not be taken for granted, which will hopefully promote and continue the tradition of service.”
Lauer, a partner in Five Points Financial in Hamilton, has worked with many military personnel during his accounting career.
“Without fail, I have found them to be the most respectful, appreciative, and forthright group of individuals to work with,” Lauer said in the statement. “Paying it back by joining the Mercer County Military Action Council’s executive board was a decision I made without hesitation.”
Aside from hosting fundraisers and military appreciation events, MCMAC will hold networking events so local business leaders can meet base commanders and procurement agents. The organization will also encourage local businesses to tap into the talent on base and offer transitioning service members an opportunity to use their skills in the civilian workplace.
MCMAC is now accepting sponsorships and memberships through its website.
For more information about the Mercer County Military Action Council, visit www.mcmilitaryactioncouncil.org.