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Cape Coral: ‘emerging military community’

By Staff | Apr 28, 2012

A commanding general for the Army Reserve reported seeing potential in Cape Coral’s new Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic and the future site of the Army Reserve Center.

Maj. Gen. Robert Kasulke, the commanding general of the Army Reserve Medical Command, spent Thursday touring the city by air, water and land. He visited the two sites on Corbett Road, as well as met with Cape officials.

During a luncheon, Kasulke also spoke with the city’s business leaders.

“We wanted to make sure he saw everything about Cape Coral,” Economic Development Director Dana Brunett said during a stop at Eco Park.

“The clinic is one thing,” he said. “But we want to build on it.”

Kasulke will be the keynote speaker at today’s annual convention for the Reserve Officers of America. The state group’s outgoing president and city officials saw the visit as an opportunity to showcase the Cape’s potential.

“It presented an unique opportunity to get senior Army Reserve leadership to see the promise of Cape Coral,” retired Chaplain Maj. Vince Cummings, the president of the Department of Florida’s Reserve Officers of America, said.

Last year, the city hosted Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood, then U.S. Army Reserve deputy chief and the keynote speaker for the 2011 convention.

“It’s an emerging military community,” Cummings said the Cape.

Kasulke agreed and expressed interest in working with the local VA to possibly set up medical reservists at the clinic, where they could work and train, in order to remain up-to-date with their skills in the medical field.

“The VA clinic is probably one of the most beautiful VA centers I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“This would be a wonderful place to train medical reservists,” Kasulke said. “Populate their clinic with some of these folks – then they can stay fresh.”

The clinic, which is expected to be completed by summer, will employ a staff of nearly 300 and provide services to more than 700 patients daily. It is part of the Veterans Investment Zone or VIZ – a corridor of hoped-for economic development.

He said the clinic will help foster economic development in the Cape.

“This place, I think, has unbelievable potential,” Kasulke said.

“VA clinics don’t get smaller, they get larger,” he said.

Kasulke mentioned possibly setting up a Medical Command unit at the Army Reserve Center, but noted that the center is years from “brick and mortar.”

Brunett called Kasulke’s visit an opportunity for future development.

“You want to put your best foot forward and show your potential,” he said.

Cummings said the visits have an impact on the city’s future.

“Life is about relationships,” he said. “This will ultimately bear the fruit in the months and years to come.”

On Friday, Kasulke attended the Horizon Council meeting, then toured the current Fort Myers VA outpatient clinic, which will eventually shut its doors in favor of the new clinic in the Cape. He also visited Lee Memorial Hospital.