A Missouri congresswoman who serves on the Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill is hopeful that President Trump will sign the $731-billion defense authorization bill, saying it includes another $40 million for the key hospital replacement project at Fort Leonard Wood.

This is an artist’s projection of the new 235,000 square foot Fort Leonard Wood hospital in southern Missouri. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 22, 2020. The project is expected to be done in 2024 (photo courtesy of Fort Leonard Wood’s public affairs office)

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, was re-elected to her sixth term in November. Her sprawling district includes the fort.

“Fort Leonard Wood had the oldest hospital in the Army system, and it was long overdue for upgrading,” Hartzler says. “So we’re very excited about that.”

Hartzler attended the June groundbreaking ceremony for the new Fort Leonard Wood community hospital, which will replace the aging one there. Construction of the new 235,000 square foot hospital is expected to be done in the fall of 2024.

“It’s going to be state-of-the-art, and it is going to provide first class medical treatment for both our soldiers and their families in that area,” says Hartzler.

U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley and Congresswoman Hartzler helped to secure $50 million for the project earlier this year.

Fort Leonard Wood’s hospital serves both the base and the surrounding southern Missouri community. The massive new hospital project also will include a 193,000 square foot clinic, a five-bay ambulance garage, a helipad, central utility plant and emergency back-up generators.

Fort Leonard Wood trains more than 80,000 military and civilians each year.

President Trump has until December 23 to sign or veto the defense authorization bill, according to “Roll Call.” The outlet reports the president has threatened to veto the measure because it doesn’t repeal legal protections for social media companies, and because it would require the Pentagon to rename military bases named after Confederate soldiers.

The defense authorization bill also includes $696-million for U.S. Army ammunition plants, including the 3,900 acre Lake City plant in western Missouri. Hartzler pushed for Lake City funding.

“Lake City ammunition plant there just outside of Blue Springs Missouri is the Army’s only small-caliber ammunition plant. It produces all of the bullets, the small-caliber range,” Hartzler says.

The Army’s Lake City plant also operates the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) test center.

Hartzler says the defense bill also includes $5 million to update T-38 ejection seats at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster. She says the current ejection seats are old and have problems.

Whiteman Air Base is also located in Hartzler’s district.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, which was recorded on December 15, 2020:

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