By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman- Article Published in Dec 2014
With the 2014 holiday season upon us, I would like, on behalf of the National Organization, to wish all our Legionnaires and their families,” Happy Holidays.” As you know, many of our veterans suffer the wounds of war and require assistance to help them reintegrate within our society. Without the American Legion’s help, many veterans’ Christmas would be very different. You, our members, through your membership, make that help possible.
By your single membership, you assist the American Legion (TAL) to ensure our veterans are properly cared for. As your NEC, I get a chance to observe and participate in the many activities of TAL. Be assured, your National Organization possess significant influence over legislation and interaction with the VA. As we all know, major changes are underway in the management of the VA.
Our new VA Secretary McDonald has endorsed our expectations that the VA be transparent, accountable, and willing to communicate with the VSOs. The Secretary is in the process of implementing private sector concepts. The Secretary is also creating a new position, “Chief Customer Service Officer,” to view veterans as customers and provide improved services throughout the VA. Changing the culture of an agency with 341,000 employees is no small task.
For that reason, it is important that we, TAL, partner with the VA to help Secretary McDonald, provide the services our veterans earned and deserve. On a local level, we are seeing change.
Besides the VHA (VA Hospital) and VBA (VA Benefits) mandated quarterly Town Hall Meetings, your leadership is now being invited to participate in important internal VA meetings. This is important because we can provide our veterans’ perspective as to the quality and timeliness of care. Unfortunately, there has been no change in resolving the differences between the VA and Kiewit-Turner over the construction of our new VA Medical Center (VAMC).
In spite of the unresolved issues, construction continues. There are currently 1,200 construction workers working on the project every day. Unfortunately, we do not expect the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) to rule before the end of year 2014.
We do expect the ruling sometime in January or February 2015. We also expect additional funds will be needed to complete the project. After the CBCA rules, I would like every single Legionnaire to call his or her Senator and/or Congressperson. I will provide the contact numbers in a subsequent article.
Changes in the VA to cause our veterans to be treated like customers would be a welcome change. Additional funding to complete the VAMC will happen. Next year, 2015, should be a great year for Colorado veterans,