By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman, As Published in the April 2015 Internet Observer
Today is March 13, 2015. This article will address Membership and the Fitz Medical Center (VAMC) issues. At last look, nationally, TAL was 40,000 members behind goal. There is no reason the American Legion (TAL) cannot close that gap!
National Commander Helm made a special appeal to all Department Commanders to make that special effort to ensure we attain a 100% membership. If we each collectively make obtaining a single new member a personal priority, we will make 100%. Each new member is important.
Our member numbers create the political capital needed to influence Congress. At TAL Washington Conference, litanies of veteran issues were presented. Our new VAMC was also hot topic. The Legion’s influence was apparent, when our Legionnaires attending witnessed our National Commander’s Testimony to the Joint Senate & House Veterans Affairs Committee. Our Department of Colorado used two teams to visit our seven Congresspersons and two Senators. Do you know your AL is the most influential VSO? The quality of our staff and our large membership give TAL that reputation. Our VAMC is attracting all sorts of media attention.
My only advice is don’t believe everything you read in the press. Because I usually attend the quarterly Kiewit Turner construction briefings, I can report that the Army Corps of Engineers ACOE and local VA construction personnel are cooperating. Their concurrence on issues such as total cost and completion date are essential elements needed as part of the proposed completion contract between the ACOE and KT.
Our Colorado congressional delegations are all in favor of funding the approximately 1.1 billion total cost needed to complete the VAMC. Congress needs the final cost figure from the ACOE/KT contract to seek legislation for an additional appropriation. The current unknown is if the VA can find enough money within their budgets to fund the ongoing construction through the acceptance of a long term completion contract? Look for a completed ACOE/KT Contract in early June. My guess on project completion is 1st or 2nd quarter 2017.
Every day, a veteran somewhere, needs help. We can never forget helping vets is our main mission. I think the American Legion is up to the task to do both. Do you?