BRAC Giving Keesler A Second Look - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/22/05

BRAC Giving Keesler A Second Look

Congressman Gene Taylor opposes BRAC recommendations regarding all military installations. He says Keesler should be the model for military health care and he says the call to cut in-patient care is the most outrageous of the BRAC proposals.

"The elimination of in-patient services would destroy the graduate medical education programs and would decimate the medical care for more than 56,000 military personnel and their families. There is no civilian medical capacity to absorb so many new patients," Taylor said.

In putting Keesler on the list, the Department of Defense figures the age and condition of the buildings as 25 percent of its calculations, while health care gets 20 percent. Biloxi's liaison to the BRAC commission says the logic is flawed and backwards.

"If somebody's about to put their hands into your stomach or your chest cavity or your head to pull out shrapnel, or bullets or just plain open heart surgery, I don't think you're going to look at them and ask, 'What is the age and condition of the building you came from?' Health care needs to be the driving force, not the age and condition of the building," General Clark Griffith said.

After hearing all of Keesler's attributes, the BRAC commission members were clearly concerned with the information in their hands.

"We'll run our own analysis of that and also ask the Air Force to do the same," Chairperson James Hill said.

Congressman Taylor says that should weigh heavily when the commission makes up its final hit list.

"Remember, three of those commission members are ex-military. They are military retirees themselves. They were part of that promise to free lifetime health care for the rest of their lives. They retired near bases so they could use the base hospitals. So, I think, they're going to very much get this message," Taylor said.

There will be more meetings between the commission and military supporters before the BRAC commission begins whittling down its list in late August.

byMarcia Hill

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