By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman, As Published in the March 2015 Internet Observer
As your NEC, I fulfill all of the NEC obligations. What you may not know is that I also hold the office of 1st Vice President of the United Veterans Committee (UVC). The American Legion (TAL) is the largest of the 52 VSOs who are members of the UVC followed in size by the DAV and VFW. With the help of your AL Department Legislative Chairman, Gary Force, all the concerns of the Department of Colorado are fully addressed by the UVC. The UVC is unique, because, as far as I know, it is the only forum in Colorado in which all the VSOs can meet and seek solutions to shared issues. The completion of our VA medical center (VAMC) is a shared goal of TAL & the UVC. I am both encouraged and disappointed in the progress to date.
As reported, the Army Corps of Engineers (COE), working under an interim agreement, have taken over the VAMC management. All parties to include, the VA, Kiewit Turner (KT), and the COE are in the process of hammering out a long-term contract. During the past month, I have observed representatives from all those organizations at the UVC/KT quarterly briefings and at the February UVC general meeting. All the players appeared eager to work together in a cooperative manner. Unfortunately politics has entered into the equation. Hopefully politics does not deter progress on the new VAMC. The only advice, I can offer our Legionnaires is to delay judgment of the alleged scandal at our VA Clermont Hospital until all facts are verified. Our role should focus on obtaining the additional funds needed to complete the VAMC.
Good news, my understanding is that our Colorado Congressional Delegation has come to an agreement to solicit an additional appropriation through the legislative process funds to complete the VAMC. FYI, I cannot give you accurate VAMC figures until the COE and KT arrive at a total cost figure and completion date hopefully within 90 days. Sloan Gipson, Deputy VA Secretary, is personally overseeing the project and will be the keynote speaker at the UVC Banquet, April 19th, at 3:30 PM, held at the Renaissance Hotel. Should you wish to attend, tickets can be purchased on the internet at www.unitedveteranscommittee.org. The VAMC is not the only issue important to TAL.
Next week, starting, February 21st, Colorado will send a delegation to the annual Washington Conference. Your National Commander Mike Helm, will testify at a Joint Session (House & Senate) of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Commander Helm will outline the TAL’ legislative agenda. To reinforce our national agenda, our Colorado Delegation will visit the Congressional Offices of both the House and Senate. It is important to let our Federal Representatives know that we are ACTIVE & INFORMED. A list of our National Legislative Agenda is available on the national web-site (www.Legion.org/service/legislative center).The VAMC is certainly Colorado’s most important issue however, our Legion programs need our attention.
Please don’t forget SAL National Commander, Mike Moss’s Homecoming, March 20th. Our Baseball Committee needs donations and volunteers for the Region 8 Tournament, Aug 4th, 2015.
Remember, our political influence is only as large as our membership. Each and every member counts. Can you sign up one more member in 2015?