By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman
In this article, I would like to report on the construction progress of our VA Medical Center (VAMC). Who gets the credit for the success in obtaining the funding approval ($625 million dollars)?
The 2016 Colorado Legislature is about to begin a new session and there is interest in our stated Veteran’s goals. Finally, membership is ever important. As American Legion (AL) Leaders, are we, at a post-level, doing all we can to improve our numbers. Construction of the VAMC should accelerate in the new year.
Kiewit Turner (KT) and US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) are now working under their new contract. The USACE has stated that the construction completed by KT was very high quality. That is good news. To date, the VA has not provided a plan on how to handle the lack of a new nursing home and inpatient PTSD clinic at the new VAMC. We will continue to pursue a viable solution! How did the VAMC’s funding get approved?
I am happy to report that Senate Legislative approval was due to a bipartisan effort on the part of our two Colorado Senators, Michael Bennett and Corey Gardner. In the House of Representatives, we can thank Congressman Ed Perlmutter and Congressman Mike Coffman. In addition, we coordinated the efforts with all the other Colorado Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) who subsequently utilized their respective national organizations to provide a unified front to approve funding. In the Colorado Legislature, Veteran’s issues will be a high priority in 2016.
The chairperson of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Representative Sue Ryden, will initiate legislation to complete the Fitzsimmons Nursing Home. This project will require the state to provide one third of the funding with a two thirds VA federal matching grant. This year, 2016, the state must provide approximately $1.5 million dollars to do the planning, drawings,
estimating, etc. The new nursing home will cost approximately $60 million dollars. That’s not all. There is an interest in the Legislature to create a Veteran’s Caucus. We have advised the
legislators involved that we supported the creation of the caucus; however, the caucus must be nonpartisan to garner our support. Hopefully, the creation of the caucus will succeed. We will know
much more in January 2016. American Legion membership is a major concern.
Today, December 15, 2016, our Department membership is 75.66%. This is good, but we can do better. I know one size does not fit all AL Posts. Some members join and continue year after year. These members know the American Legion fights for veteran’s benefits. Many members are happy to belong just for that reason. Another group belongs because they would like to actively, one-on-one, help our veterans in need. Other veteran members simply belong for the comradery. When was the last time your post surveyed their members?
I suggest each medium or large, post survey their members. Based upon the survey results, can create activities to meet our post member’s desires. I also think that every post of medium too large
size should provide a veteran assistance activity that directly and personally helps veterans and their families. We need to make this type of effort personal. Do you know we also can actually partner with another non-profit to help? If we don’t become creative, the future of the American Legion is in doubt. We can’t let that happen