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Patrick Russell President of 

VA Council 259

8th District Representative for Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Brothers and Sisters of the National VA Council,

I am the AFGE 8th District Representative of Veterans Affairs Council 259. I have been actively involved in the VA Council for more than 18 years and I have been the 8th District Representative since 2001. I have been president of Local 1539 at the Hot Springs, South Dakota VA Medical Center since 1992. I am running for the office of President of the National VA Council because locals across the country are not being heard when they come to the executive board of the NVAC for assistance.
I believe the National VA Council is overdue for a change to revitalize and reorganize!

Where were we three years ago?

You need to reassess where we are and where you would like to be in the future. Three years ago you were facing PC3 (Patient Centered Community Care) and today you are fighting Veterans Choice and Choice First. We all know that federal employees can deliver higher quality care, in a more timely fashion at less cost! Veterans nationwide have told their political leaders they want their care at VA facilities. As President of the NVAC I will be fighting to expose the fraud, waste and abuse of Veterans Choice. Fighting for our VA is more important than serving as Co-chair of the National Partnership Council. We need a stronger voice and less photo ops!

Help Teams

Locals continue to cry for help and cannot afford attorneys.  As President of the NVAC I would establish help teams, 1 to 2 person teams that will go into locals to provide just in time training!  Sending stewards to training is very expensive and many locals cannot afford associated expenses. In comparison to the money spent  for stewards training, sending in help teams to assist the local could be cost effective. The funding would be split between the local and NVAC.  Too many locals need the help NOW! 

More outreach to the field

Our current administration has been very reluctant to allow for groups of presidents or others to openly communicate with each other! And when they do communicate, National Office refuses to participate in the discussion.  This censorship is nothing but an attempt to isolate and protect the Executive Board rather than communicating with members of the Council.

Training Module on Coalitions

As the VA moves forward to reduce their ‘footprint’ across the system, the time may come when you are notified that the VA will be reducing the size of your facility, relocating services or closing. What do you do when you get the notification?  What is the VA required to do? Where do you start the fight to save the jobs and continue to provide cost effective quality service for our veterans?
When a VA medical center closes or is reconfigured there is a cultural and social impact on veterans, the community and employees. Before the VA can close or significantly alter a facility they must conduct an Environmental Impact Statement and follow a process under the National Environmental Policy Act. You do have allies in the community who you can work with to protect the quality of care for our vets.
We need an education module on organizing around the issues to build a coalition with your community so you will be prepared to act immediately to collaborate and slow down or stop the process.

If I am Elected as President of the NVAC

Our National Representatives will be experienced subject matter experts that can answer questions! 
  • Phone calls will be returned in a timely manner!
  • Your phone calls to the NVAC office WILL NOT BE RECORDED without your knowledge!
  • The NVAC website will be upgraded to be a valuable resource for our locals!
  • There will be no trips overseas using your per capita tax money!
  • VBA participation and communication will be increased! You deserve a bigger voice!
  • The NVAC will play a more active role in the AFGE conventions. Does it bother anybody that we hear more from DEFCON, Social Security, Border Patrol and HUD than we do from the NVAC at the conventions? We are the largest council in AFGE!


  • I have more than thirty-four years of total federal service:
  • Military service: US Army - January 1969 to 1972; Honorable discharge Sgt E-5. Special Forces Medic stationed with 1st  SF Group Ryuku Islands (Okinawa), Oct. ’70 to Jan ‘72
  • BS Medical Technology—University of Wisconsin—Madison 1975
  • I have been employed at the Hot Springs, SD VA Medical Center from 1985 to the present.
  • Over the past twenty-six years I have been working for our Union brothers and sisters at the Hot Springs VA Medical Center and I have been President of AFGE Local 1539 from 1992 to the present.
  • I have been a Vice President of the South Dakota State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO since 2002.
  • I am the Chairman of the Hot Springs Save the VA Committee.
  • Former Chair of the NVAC Communications Committee.
  • Former member of the NVAC Mid-Term Bargaining Committee.
  • In 2004 I fought to keep the banquet fees separate from the registration fees for the NVAC Convention in Puerto Rico to keep the costs lower for our locals.  Today banquet fees are $75 and are included in the registration.
  • As chair of the NVAC Communications Committee in conjunction with the AFGE Communications Department I helped organize the Cell Phones for Soldiers Campaign for Christmas 2005. Our efforts helped provide calling cards for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • At the AFGE National convention in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006, I was appointed by the 8th District NVP to the Constitutional Resolution Committee. I introduced language into the constitutional to redirect our dues money so it was available to the NVAC and other councils in the federation. At that time every AFGE member was paying 10¢ per member per month to fund DEFCON. As a result, other Councils now receive the rebate from their locals!
I use personal funds for my campaign. Union funds and dues money cannot be used.
Campaign Contributions accepted at

Patrick Russell for NVAC President
PO Box 307
Hot Springs, SD 57747  





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