South Mississippi Braces For BRAC - - The News for South Mississippi


South Mississippi Braces For BRAC

"It's absolutely a slap in the face to these veterans and to all veterans who have served our country so well," says retired General Clark Griffith.

The former Keesler commander says veterans who served their country deserve better treatment than the BRAC committee proposes.

Keesler's medical center is targeted for realignment, doing away with overnight hospital stays and turning it into an outpatient clinic.

"While you might be saving some money here, you're going to transfer that cost to Tri-care. And Tri-care is government insurance, so the taxpayer's still paying."

Griffith says the estimated savings will be very little.

"The savings of this is $23 million. That will not buy the left wing of an F-22."

That's the argument Griffith and community supporters will make to the BRAC representatives who tour Keesler Thursday. Griffith admits getting answers and feedback has been tough.

"The frustration is, we feel like we're kind of fighting a ghost. You can't get the information from the people that put the report together. The people at the base can't talk to us because they have to salute smartly and support the Secretary of Defense."

If changes are made at Keesler, Griffith says it will be the retirees who do without.

"Their medical access and medical care's going to go down tremendously. It's just the wrong thing to do."

There was supposed to be a closed meeting this Wednesday afternoon between community leaders and an analyst for the BRAC commission. But General Griffith says for some unknown reason, the meeting was canceled. However, a similar meeting in Jackson County was held Wednesday regarding the homeport.

BRAC's tours Thursday are closed to the public and the media.

byMarcia Hill

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