Today is Sunday, May 11th, 2014. This past week included the 2014 Spring Meetings at National HQ. “What a week,” on Monday our National Commander, Dan Dellinger, called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric K Shinseki, Dr. Robert Petzel, Under Secretary for Heath, and Allison Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits. The last time a call for a VA Secretary resignation was made 30 years ago. The VFW and DAV did not follow. At a special NEC meeting, Monday May 5th, our Commander received a unanimous vote of support for his actions. Support for our Commander is justified for the following reasons:
The mismanagement of the major VA construction projects (4 VAMC) is at best a disaster.
Since when do we tolerate secret appointment lists?
How many vets died because they could not get timely medical attention?
These are serious allegations that demand immediate attention. By taking the leadership role to demand action, TAL has demonstrated that the “Legion is willing to fight for our veterans. That is simply the essence of why the American Legion exists.”
How this all plays out is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain. Whoever is charged with the VA’s future management must communicate with our veteran community and operate in an atmosphere of transparency. Only then will the confidence of the VA be restored. During this Spring Meetings the NEC meet for two days.
As usual, numerous reports and 34 resolutions were passed. Of concern to Colorado, was our request to host the Western Region 8 Legion Baseball Tournament in both 2015 and 2016. The tournament will be held at Suitts Field, Scott Carpenter Park, Boulder. This is a chance to see Legion Baseball at it’s best. More information will follow; however make a note in your calendar to attend. How about membership?
As your NEC, I would like to congratulate those posts and districts that have achieved 100%+. I would also like to congratulate Department Commander Carol Kennedy and her membership team for leading the effort. The strength of our membership is the metric that allows TAL to succeed in our State and Washington DC. We had great success in the Colorado Legislature.
As 1st Vice President of the United Veterans Committee (UVC), I can report that we supported 25 Bills that have become law or waiting for the Governor signature. Our #1 priority is the Veterans Assistance Grant Program, HB14 -1205. The Governor should sign this bill that provides for a permanent line item in the State budget (the Long Bill). We no longer need to justify the entire program. The UVC will still have to advocate for the amount of the appropriation. For your information, the goals of the UVC are no different than the goals of TAL.
The VA and Kiewit/Turner will face off at the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals on May 28th. Expect a 10-day trial. It will take the Judge about three to six months to rule. In the meantime, we should get some feedback from the proceeding. This whole process has been very frustrating; however, in time we will get our VA Medical Center and we simply have to“KEEP THE FAITH.
Please consider attending Department Convention. I encourage questions and convention is a great place to meet face to face.
Thank you for your commitment to the Veterans of the USA.