By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman – As Published in the July 2015 Internet Observer
Today is Tuesday, June 30, 2015. I would like to thank all of the Legionnaires that attended Department Convention in Colorado Springs. The turnout was the best in many years. The single largest issue at convention was the proposed $5 national dues increase. The national increase resolution will be voted upon the national convention floor.
There is one technical problem with the resolution. The way the resolution is written, the 2016 dues increase will go into effect January 20, 2016. Therefore, anyone who has not paid their dues prior to Jan 20th will get a dues increase of $5 dollars. If this provision is not changed, the post may have to eat that $5. Because posts set their annual dues in April, there is no organized way for the post to increase their post dues to cover the national increase. This problem must be addressed by the national organization.
The VA Medical Center (VAMC) is still our greatest concern.
The key objection that must be resolved is convincing House Speaker Boehner that VA mismanagement has been eliminated, construction costs are accurate, and the VA demonstrates accountability. “Good luck Sec McDonald!” “The VA also has struggled to keep construction progressing.
Since December 2014, the VA has funded an additional $307 million from internal repurposed VA funds to a total expenditure of $1,050,000,000. The $307 million kept the construction progressing. Our final cost figures should be available from the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) mid-September. At that time, the VA will contract with the USACE to manage the project. The USACE will then contract with Kiewit Turner to complete the VAMC, provided Congress appropriates the money. Currents estimates are $625 million to complete the VAMC. The size and scope of our new VAMC is so large it is affecting projects in other states. For that reason, an element of politicks has us concerned. We have been working hard too keep the project non-political.
In addition to funding the VAMC, the veteran community is lobbying hard to convince Congress to include the PTSD Clinic and the Short Term Rehab Nursing Home (add $55 million). Both facilities are really needed and will be less expensive to construct these facilities as part of current construction. The next three months are critical. You can be certain that we will be following every aspect toward finishing our VAMC. If the veteran community continues to work with the Colorado delegation, and uses our collective National VSOs to lobby the House, we hope too see the 60%to 65% complete VAMC opening into 2017.