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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Congresswoman: Kansas delegation trying to preempt cuts to military forts

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  • Last week, the Kansas delegation joined forces to fight for our military communities at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.
    We sent letters to Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno to prevent potential cuts to personnel and operations at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley as a result of the Army’s planned Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment. This assessment will ultimately determine force reductions at Army installations all over the country.
    The delegation detailed line by line the critical roles of both forts in regards to our national security and the Army.
    We asked the Army to consider the impact personnel reductions would have on our local communities, and the state of Kansas.  Fort Leavenworth remains the "Intellectual Center of the Army," and no other military installation in the country is equipped to provide the critical training and education Fort Leavenworth offers our elite forces.
    We will continue, in the weeks ahead, to remind the Army of the unique, quality, and imperative training provided to our soldiers at these installations, and we will fight any ill-considered cuts at either of the forts.
    Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka
    As many of you are aware, the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center’s emergency room shut down operations in January and federal Veterans Affairs officials were sent to investigate serious allegations that were brought to my attention.
    I have been in close contact with the administrators at Colmery-O’Neil to ensure corrective actions were taken, and was encouraged to see progress being made during my last visit to the VA Medical Center in June.
    However, in June, I was assured the facility had hired new physicians and staff, and that they were ready to reopen. Yet, it is now August, and the emergency room is still closed.
    Too often the VA requires constant supervision to get them to do their job. It appears the problem now is a lack of communication and action at the national level. The VA must do its most basic job, without members of Congress breathing down their backs.
    The recent VA legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama was a good first step in addressing failures like this, and will hold VA officials accountable.
    However, there is no grace period for the new leadership at the VA. Our veterans have waited long enough and I will continue to pressure VA officials until the emergency room at Colmery-O’Neil is reopened.
    Open office hours
    Meeting with Kansans and listening to your ideas and counsel is my top priority.
    If you would like to set up a time to come in and visit with me to share your concerns, my next open office hours will be hosted on Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. in my Topeka district office.
    Page 2 of 2 - Please contact Melissa Underwood in my district office to schedule an appointment at (785) 234-5966.

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