Frank McCurdy LargeBy: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman – Article published in the May Observer

As your NEC, my goal is to bring to your attention issues that are current and important. This Apr 21th report will cover updated VA hospital information, attitudes in Washington, and the Colorado United Veterans Committee (UVC) achievements.

In Washington, political pressure is mounting to resolve the barriers to the final construction of the new VA hospital. The latest estimated completion date is fourth quarter 2016 at a cost of 1.1 Billion dollars. On May 28th, 2014, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) is scheduled to hear the case of Kiewit Turner (KT) vs. VA. If you really want to become an expert, you can read all the complaints by KT and the responses by the VA with access to web site http://cbca.gov/3450/. When you figure out “who is in the right,” let me know.

Congressman Coffman, who by the way, is Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs, Oversight and Investigations Committee, has introduced HR 3593, “The VA Construction Assistance Act of 2013.” This Bill would give hospital over-sight to the Army Corp of Engineers (COE). The VFW National supports the Bill. The American Legion (TAL) still has the Bill under consideration. Those of you that have an engineering and/or project management experience understand the complexity of assuming responsibility in the middle of a project. That is a major concern of our national organization.

With the support of Congressman Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a Congressional Field Hearing will be held April 22nd to address the hospital and other veteran’s issues. On April 21st, the American Legion System Worth Saving will conduct a town hall meeting. This is a chance for vets to air out their VA problem or to credit the VA for good service. Our Congress is not happy with the VA.

Recent incidents of veteran deaths in our VA hospitals, budget overruns, and the mismanagement of 4 new VAMCs have caused Congressional action. Two Bills, one in the Senate and one in the House, called “The Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014.” The Bill actually allows Senior Executive Service Employees to be removed for lack of performance, “WOW.”

Good new from the United Veterans Committee (UVC). HB 14-1205, “The Veterans Assistance Grants,” will soon be law. No longer will the UVC need to justify the merits of the grant program, but simply argue the dollars amounts to meet veteran needs. This was UVC’s top priority. VSOs, County Services Officers, and Non-profits may apply for grants.

The NEC meets during the Spring Meetings. With all the activity in Washington, it should be an interesting session. Remember to call your expired list. Every issue we addressed would not be possible without a strong membership.