By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman, as published in the December 2015 Issue of the Internet Observer

Frank McCurdy, NEC

Frank McCurdy, NEC

Today is Veterans Day, and the outlook for Veterans next year is promising. In this article, I would like to address three subjects. Report the progress at the VA Medical Center (VAMC); introduce the issue of CHOICE, and comments on membership. All the approval issues needed to construct our VAMC are now in place. The PTSD inpatient clinic and the CLC (Nursing Home) have not been included and still must be resolved. The funding for the VAMC follows.

The final contract between the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) and Kiewit Turner (KT) has been signed. The USACE is now in charge of managing the construction of our new VAMC. The additional cost to complete the VAMC is $570 million dollars. The contract completion date is February 1, 2018. Congress has authorized $625 million dollars that includes incentives to complete the VAMC sooner than Feb 1st. KT has already increased, by 180, the number of worker on the job with plans for 1,500 workers. The American Legion (TAL) and the United Veteran Committee (UVC) meet with KT quarterly to discuss issues. The USACE and VA are now attending those meeting. I am pleased to report that the VA, KT, and the USACE are all now working together. It is a very positive working environment. The next big issue for the VA and Veterans is to resolve what “CHOICE” means.

The VA has sent a plan to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. The suggested bill is called “Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015.” The idea is to solve the problems of Veteran access to health care and travel time in rural areas. If you would like to become an expert, the plan can be downloaded from the Legion website. This plan will be the basis upon which the Veterans Affairs Committees will debate the delivery of Veteran healthcare. There are conservative advocacy groups that want CHOICE and to privatize the VA. Others believe the VA is ok as is. Because the idea of CHOICE is somewhat popular, you can expect a compromise with some aspect of CHOICE included. Do you know your membership in TAL influences the outcome of the CHOICE debate? Membership is the political capital our American Legion lobbyist needs to obtain outcomes consistent with AL policy. How can we approve retention?

Do you know, for every three members we recruit, three years later, there is only one member left. For that reason, we should focus on non-renewed members with three years of membership or less. Retention should be a part of every post membership plan. Has a potential member ever asked you “what does your post do to help Veterans?” Every Post should have a favorite ongoing activity that directly helps Veterans. There is no simple answer to membership, but including simple technics that we know work will surely improve your numbers.

As this Observer is the December issue, I would like to wish you and your family Happy Holidays.