November 11, 2020

Fighting for Veterans’ Healthcare


“Who are the young men we are asking to go into action against such solid odds? You’ve met them, you know. They are the best we have, but they are not McNamara’s sons or Bundy’s; I doubt they are yours. And they know they are at the end of the pipeline. That no one cares. They know.” -- Anonymous quote from a Vietnam War General

My father was one of the 2.2 million young men the U.S. military drafted to serve during the Vietnam War era. In 1966, as a 21-year-old, he was drafted to serve as a soldier in the United States Army. While he was not one of the draftees to serve in the combat zones, he did honorably and faithfully serve until 1968, spending some of his service time with the Seventh Army in Germany. My father, like so many other men and women, is now a veteran of the U.S. military.

Today being Veterans Day, I want to say, “Thank You!” to my dad, Jim Curtis, and all who served the United States from World War II through the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Like many of our veterans, my dad in recent years has fought to receive healthcare services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as he continues to deal with a pulmonary condition and his successful defeat of cancer. My family is so thankful for the VA healthcare services my dad received, but we also know there is room for continued improvement in the VA services made available to our veterans.

To help improve the healthcare services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, I encourage those who work in the healthcare architecture, engineering, and construction industry to provide their services to this department. We, as Haskell, are committed to providing architecture, design, and engineering services for the VA because it allows us to serve those veterans who served us. For those in our industry working with the VA and those who may be considering it, here’s how we can best serve the VA and, in turn, our veterans.

  • Partner with Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) that align with your companies’ values to propose on the VA’s design and/or construction projects. If awarded, encourage the VA to allow the implementation of healthcare design and construction principles regarding evidence-based design, staffing and operation LEAN principles, WELL and biophilic design, energy efficiency, and well performing buildings. While the VA has developed standards for their healthcare facilities’ design and construction, healthcare AECs should advocate for these healthcare and construction principles in the same manner as we do for not-for-profit or for-profit healthcare systems’ design and construction projects.
  • Promote streamlined and efficient design/construction schedules and construction cost estimating with the VA’s leadership and members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Design and construction of VA healthcare facilities should not take years to complete as many presently do, and as the healthcare AEC we have developed processes working with not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare systems to design and construct healthcare facilities quickly, and those processes should be implemented on all future VA healthcare facilities’ design and construction. Our veterans need access to the healthcare services provided by the VA, and they should not be penalized because of the inefficiency in the design/construction process for new VA healthcare facilities.

If you are not successful working with the VA on a healthcare facility design or construction, there are still many ways the AEC industry can support veterans. Financially and volunteer to work with veteran-focused nonprofits, hire qualified veterans to work with your companies, contact your government representatives and encourage them to support our veterans, live your lives and work in a manner that those veterans who sacrificed for us would be proud of, and simply take time to thank our veterans for their service, not only today, but every day.

Lastly, thank you to the veterans who are my fellow teammates at Haskell and all our family of brands.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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