When Martha Jacobs asked, Col. Daniel Lecce listened and made it happen. A special Retiree-Widow Town Hall Meeting for military veterans was held at the Disabled American Veteran Chapter 16’s Craig Hall for the first time Saturday.
As the former chairwoman of the Military Widows Association and current liaison between Camp Lejeune and military widows, Jacobs requested a meeting be held off-base to enable more people to attend the meeting and hear from the commanding officer and Naval Hospital about “what all is going on.” “We wanted them to be able to hear about the Naval Hospital, about their services and programs and what they do for us, and hear what the (commanding officer) does, and what’s going on there that’s good for us,” she said.
While there are “massive” changes going on aboard Camp Lejeune, Commanding Officer Col. Daniel Lecce says the inconveniences will be worth it in the long run. “It’s an inconvenience I know, it’s painful, but there’s not much I can do about it — but if you hang on for three years it’s going to be wonderful,” he said.
Lecce provided maps and drawings of all the projects, including what he called the “big daddy project,” the new main gate.
The base will build the new main gate near Chico’s Tire on N.C. 24 in three phases, he said. It is currently driving roadway supports in Northeast Creek, which have to be done by the end of March.
He also discussed the Brewster Street, where the Naval Hospital is expanding, housing units are being built and a new school is being added. “Honestly, Brewster is going to be a mess the next couple years,” he said. “But when it’s done it will be really nice four-lane road that can handle the volume of traffic — but it’s going to take a good three years to get this done.”
Traffic isn’t the only thing under construction, however.
Lecce told the group that a new fitness center is expected to open Jan. 2012, to include state of the art equipment and an indoor swimming pool.
Lecce recommended using the Camp Lejeune website, lejeune.usmc.mil, to keep up with all that is happening aboard base and also get a more detailed look at all the construction sites and what is happening at each of them.
Camp Lejeune news is also available on Facebook at facebook.com/camp.lejeune.
Facebook has become the most effective means of relaying information, including the recent base closure due to inclement weather, Lecce said.
With the increased troops and their families, and a 30 plus year old building, expansion and renovation of the existing hospital facility became a necessity to provide adequate services, said Cmdr. Matthew Case, with the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital. “This will be a very large facility and it will help us provide care for our out-patient side,” Case said.
There will also be a new six-window pharmacy. “I know most of you count on our pharmacy services,” he said. The hospital will also be expanding its Emergency Department in order to deal with the ever increasing number of cases coming in on a daily basis, Case explained, which will be in full operation by 2013.
Audience members expressed their concern with having ample handicapped spaces at the hospital when the expansion is complete. “As the retirement community here increases in size there will be increasing disability, so there will be even more need for handicapped spaces at the hospital,” said Bernice Rogers, the secretary for the Military Widows Association.
Case assured Rogers that there would be more than there is now. He said the hospital will apply the American Disabilities Act formulas to determine how many parking spaces are needed. “We are working to not just do the minimum, I assure you,” he said.
Town Halls are very beneficial for us, said Paul O’Toole, chairman for the Camp Lejeune Military Retiree Council and a retired Marine Corps colonel who served 40 years. “Knowledge is golden … And we learn from the questions of others,” he said. Rogers was very satisfied with what she heard. “I learned a lot today. When there’s an exchange of ideas, it’s good for everybody,” she said. “We learned all about the construction we see everyday … It’s nice to know what they are actually doing.”
Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune’s quarterly Retiree Town Hall meeting, rescheduled from Jan. 20, will be held Feb. 17. A 2 p.m. meeting and a 6 p.m. meeting will be held at Building 65, in room 217, second floor, located at Molly Pitcher Drive.
Deborah Harvey from Tricare will give a presentation on Tricare benefits, according to the NHCL release.
© Copyright 2011 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved.