SPECIAL REPORT: Leesville prepares for thousands of soldiers to - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

SPECIAL REPORT: Leesville prepares for thousands of soldiers to deploy to Iraq

Source: Christian Piekos Source: Christian Piekos
LEESVILLE, LA (KPLC) -

The City of Leesville is going to be much quieter come this Fall; 2,100 soldiers will be deploying from Fort Polk to Iraq. According to Fort Polk leaders, soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division will "conduct combat and anti-terrorism operations."

The deployment has business leaders very worried about losing profits.

Angel Blakeney and her husband manage Diego's Burrito Bar and Fox's Pizza Den. Both are restaurants in Leesville with a close proximity to Fort Polk.

"We don't know what's going to happen until it actually happens," Blakeney said. "We've been talking about this for months."

Fort Polk has an active duty population of 8,000 active duty soldiers. Once these soldiers deploy, its population will dip to a little over 6,000 soldiers.

"We don't want any employees to lose their jobs, but that's the reality," Blakeney said. "They might not get as many hours."

Blakeney said close to 150 soldiers eat at Diego's during its lunch time rush. She said 70 percent of Diego's profit comes from military personnel. 

"We bought a food trailer, so we're going to take our food elsewhere," Blakeney said. "We're trying to make ends meet."

 Reese Blakeney, Angel Blakeney's son, works at Fox's Pizza Den in Leesville. He said a majority of Fox's rush comes from soldiers at Fort Polk.

"It's usually four or five big groups," Blakeney said. "Usually six or seven at a time."

Blakeney said 50 percent of Fox's profits come from military personnel.

David Doyle, manager of Wagon Master Steakhouse, said he's worried about losing 20 to 25 percent of his profits during the deployment.

"It's a huge difference in our traffic and our business," Doyle said. 

With fewer soldiers coming in, Doyle said he'll likely cut back on employees.

"You can't have 15 people on a shift when you only need nine," Doyle said.

Although Leesville now knows how many soldiers will be deployed, until the soldiers actually leave, business owners will have to trim their businesses on the fly.

"The uncertainty is still there," Doyle said. "Our adjustments will have to be made accordingly.

Regardless of how much profit businesses in Leesville lose during the deployment, managers understand everyone is making a sacrifice.

"Our country needs defending," Blakeney said. "Why else would the government pay them and train them?"

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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