President signs Farr bill to name new joint VA-DOD clinic after General Gourley
WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama today signed Rep. Sam Farr’s, D-Carmel, bill to name the future joint Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense outpatient clinic at the former Fort Ord the "Major General William H. Gourley VA-DOD Outpatient Clinic.” The bill, H.R. 272, honors Gen. Gourley for his lifetime of service to his country, his fellow members of the military and Central Coast veterans. The new clinic is the second joint clinic in the nation and the first built specifically from the ground up to care for active duty service members, their families and veterans all under one roof. The bill received unanimous support in Congress.
“General Gourley inspired the creation of the joint clinic at Fort Ord,” said Farr. “To honor his commitment to the clinic’s construction, when the doors open to provide care for both active duty members of the military and veterans, it will bear the name of the man who dedicated his entire life to serving those who served our nation.”
Gen. Gourley, who passed away in 2008, was instrumental in the clinic's development. During his career he championed his 10 Golden Rules. His 10th rule was “Make a better Army and Corps for your subordinates to inherit.” He carried that mantra into retirement by working tirelessly to improve the treatment and care of veterans in California. His interest in designating a section of Fort Ord as a joint clinic for both veterans and service members began when the base closed in 1994. Because of his efforts, the clinic will serve over 80,000 active duty service members, their families and veterans.
Ground was broken last Veterans Day and the clinic is expected to open in the fall of 2016. The three-story building, 104,000-square-foot facility will provide primary care and specialty care including medical/surgical subspecialty clinics, mental health care, audiology, physical and occupation therapy, ancillary and diagnostic services. The clinic will replace the VA’s existing clinic which is too small to serve the current population and cannot be expanded.
“General Gourely championed bringing the two departments together under one roof as a way to provide better care for our service members throughout their career and on into retirement,” said Farr. “Thanks to his efforts, this design will not only improve the lives for those here on the Central Coast but hopefully it will become the model for future clinics throughout the country.”
Gen. Gourley's military service began in the late 1950s when he served in Germany, where he shared MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) with Elvis Presley. He later served in Korea and Vietnam. After returning from his tour in Vietnam, he was assigned to the Pentagon and rose to work with then Gen. Colin Powell on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In his retirement, Gen. Gourley worked to enhance life for active duty soldiers and veterans living in Central California by working to improve TRICARE service on the Monterey peninsula; establish a veterans cemetery on the old Fort Ord; make health care more affordable and accessible to military retirees; and providing the groundwork for the joint DOD-VA health care clinic.
Artistic rendering of the clinic:
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Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chairs statement on committee approval of travel bill
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chairs Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif. and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. released the following joint statement in response to the House Energy & Commerce Committee approval of H.R. 4450, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014:
"As co-chairs of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, we are pleased to announce that the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (HR 4450) was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today. This bill will enable our country to increase its success in the international traveler market by reauthorizing Brand USA. It’s our nation’s Destination Marketing Organization or DMO, and it will allow them to bring greater numbers of international travelers to our shores.
'These travelers provide a substantial boost to our economy and produce many U.S. jobs. We know that international visitors coming to the United States are measured as an export, and travel and tourism is the top export industry. Number One! Seventy million international visitors, spending over $180 billion dollars, have produced a trade surplus every year since 1989 – and Brand USA is a crucial part of this. A recent Brand USA report showed that FY13 saw an increase of 1.1 million visitors. That increase brings an additional $3.4 billion in spending to our economy and supports over 50,000 new jobs.
'These international visitors, and their economic benefits, travel throughout America to major destinations like New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Chicago. And yet, it is our “amber waves of grain” and “purple mountain majesties” that attract travelers to all corners of our country.
'The benefits from international visitors are substantial, and Brand USA is a real value that produces a considerable return on investment - more than 30 to 1. That’s an unbeatable deal that is done at no U.S. taxpayer expense. The funding for this program is provided by the international visitors that come to the United States.
'This bill has consistently had bipartisan support. It passed out of committee with bipartisan support and is cosponsored by over 140 Members, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
"As co-chairs of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, we like to say that travel and tourism is in every state, every territory, and congressional district across this country. We are excited to see this legislation move forward, and, if you haven’t done so already, we ask you to join us in our strong support of HR 4450."
The legislation also has broad support by the travel and tourism industry. A complete list of groups that support H.R. 4450 can be found here.