Vice Speaker Slams DoD For Placing Dog Kennels Before Guam’s People

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Guam –  Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz has sent what he describes as a “strongly worded”  letter to Assistant Interior Secretary Tony Babauta and Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo criticising the U.S. Government for putting the needs of  the dogs of military dependants ahead of the needs of Guam’s people.

In his letter Cruz points out that last week a $168 million dollar appropriation was announced to build a new Naval Hospital and money from “the Government of Japan has been allocated for a new medical clinic and a working dog kennel at Apra Harbor, to the tune of $96 million and $14 million, respectively.”

But no funding has been allocated to make improvements to Guam Memorial Hospital.

In a release, Cruz writes that he has “maintained from the very beginning that the true ‘choke point’ for the buildup will be the hospital. If Guam is to keep up with the national average, it will need 500 to 600 acute care hospital beds, an expanded emergency room and intensive care unit, and funding to support the thousands of new residents needed to support the buildup,”

Cruz also writes that: “thousands of mostly migrant workers coming to Guam will have no access to the Navy’s medical facilities and will therefore seek medical treatment at local clinics andthe hospital. Their employer-provided health insurance will not address the immediate concerns”

And the Senator warns that the new medical facilities will be available only to military personnel, not the thousands of workers needed to support buildup construction projects.
Speaker Cruz’s letter is printed below:
Senator Benjamin J.F. Cruz
Guam LEGISLATURE CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON TOURISM, CULTURAL AFFAIRS,
September 20,2010
The Honorable Madeleine Bordallo
Delegate from Guam
U.S. House of Representatives
120 Father Duenas Ave, Ste 107
Hagatna, Guam 96910
Fax: (671) 477- 2587
Re: Marine Relocation to Guam
Dear Congresswoman Bordallo:
On the eve of Record of Decision for the Marine Relocation, it seems both the Administration and the Department of Defense wasted no time ensuring that the medical needs of military personnel is their first priority. Yet, nothing is offered to address the buildup’s impact on Guam’s medical facilities.
While we have been assured numerous times by the Joint Guam Program Office that efforts are underway to address Guam’s civilian infrastructure through the Office of Economic Adjustment, we have already seen hundreds of millions earmarked for various projects that benefit no one but the
military.
Three projects are particularly worthy of attention. Last week, we received word that a $168 million contract was awarded for the Naval Hospital’s reconstruction. I understand the total appropriation will be $446 million under the 2010 Defense Authorization Act. Additionally, money from the
Government of Japan has been allocated for a new medical clinic and a working dog kennel at Apra Harbor, to the tune of $96 million and $14 million, respectively.
I have maintained from the very beginning that the true “choke point” for the buildup will be the hospital. If Guam is to keep up with the national average, it will need 500 to 600 acute care hospital beds, an expanded emergency room and intensive care unit, and funding to support the
thousands of new residents needed to support the buildup. Be reminded that overcrowding is a regular front-page feature of the Pacific Daily News. Be reminded that thousands of mostly migrant workers coming to Guam will have no access to the Navy’s medical facilities and will therefore seek medical treatment at local clinics and the hospital. Their employer-provided health insurance will not address the immediate concerns.
Our local civilian population will soon have one-fourth of the number of hospital beds per 1000 residents that those in the mainland enjoy.
Furthermore, I cannot begin to even imagine the kinds of problems the hospital will have trying to recruit medical professionals in light of the increased
needs.
Why is it that a new hospital, a new medical clinic and a new dog kennel behind the fence takes precedence over all else? Why is it that when the Administration negotiated with the Government of  Japan on ways to accommodate the Marine relocation, no thought was ever given as to whether
Guam’s ability to provide adequate medical services to civilians would be impacted?
In a single week, the federal government’s message to Guam’s people was that a new hospital, a new medical clinic, and a dog kennel will take precedence over their medical well-being. This treatment of Guam’s people reminds me of a phrase from one of the Jatakas, the stories of the Buddha’s former lives. “How can royal dogs be compared to common curs?”
Sincerely,
Benjamin J.F. Cruz