FRANKFORT—A group of state lawmakers are calling for the U.S. Department of Defense to abandon its plan to reduce personnel at military bases in Kentucky and across the country.
The reductions would mean a loss of 16,000 positions at Ft. Campbell and 7,605 spots at Ft. Knox, as well a combined income loss of $1.29 billion in Kentucky, according to data from from the U.S. Army's 2020 Force Structure Realignment report, which was provided to the state committee by the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs.
The state's Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Safety wants intends to fight the reductions and voted Thursday to send a resolution to the U.S. Department of Defense.
David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs, said the $1.29 billion figure only includes income, thus the total economic effect of the base reductions could be much greater.
"It's definitely fodder for a letter to the Army," Thompson said. "If we think they're going low on their estimates of economic impact, it's up to us to illuminate that to them and say 'hey, it's a much bigger impact than you're indicating.'"
Kentucky’s Veterans Affairs Commissioner is stepping down to oversee the construction of the state’s new long-term care facility for veterans in Hardin County.
Governor Steve Beshear announced Friday that Ken Lucas is leaving the post, and being replaced by Heather French Henry.
Lucas is a former U.S. Congressman from Kentucky’s Fourth House District and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. Beshear appointed him head of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009.
He’ll now oversee the construction of what will be the state’s fourth veterans nursing home. The Radcliff Veterans Center is scheduled to open in September of 2015, and will provide 120 beds to veterans in the Hardin County region. Featuring a dozen ten-person homes, the facility will sit on 195 acres of land donated by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Taking over as head of the Veterans Affairs Department on July 1 will be Heather French Henry. She began the Heather French Foundation for Veterans in 1999, shortly after she was crowned Miss America.
The former Miss America has joined a list of half a dozen party activists or leaders waiting for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to decide whether she'll run in 2014 against Mitch McConnell for his U.S. Senate seat.
If Grimes run, she's likely to get enough support to clear out the field. Otherwise, the Democrats have potential candidates known within political circles, but who may be not instantly recognizable with the majority of voters—former state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gorman or environmental activist Tom FitzGerald, for example.
Without Grimes, Democrats may find themselves with a crowded primary—and that would cause problems in a bid to unseat McConnell, who polls suggest is vulnerable, says Dewey Clayton, a political scientist for the University of Louisville.