IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

February 8, 2002

No. 02-02


(301) 585-4000
Contact:
Mokie Porter

 

VETERANS CRITICIZE MEDICAL CARE CUTBACKS IN MIDWEST
VA Medical Service Realignment Plan Deeply Flawed


(Washington, D.C.) – Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) today sharply criticized a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plan to end inpatient services at a major Chicago hospital and other reductions in medical services for veterans in the Great Lakes region. 

“We regret that top VA leadership has elected to proceed with a flawed process that will inevitably leave many Midwestern veterans with fewer health care services,” said Tom Corey, VVA’s national president. “They have turned a deaf ear to those most in need.” 

Corey noted that none of the key mental health care staff in the Chicago VA system were consulted during the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) restructuring process. The VA’s proposed plan would end inpatient services at the Lakeside VA Medical Center. The cuts will fall hardest on veterans needing intensive mental health services and counseling. 

Corey also criticized the VA for seeking to sell off or lease the Lakeside property to commercial business interests rather than creating transitional housing and other programs for homeless veterans in the Chicago area. 

“At a time when homelessness among veterans is at record levels, we are baffled by the decision not to convert some of the Lakeside facility into a homeless veterans assistance center,” Corey said. “We expected better.” 

The complete CARES realignment package affects veterans in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, many of whom will have to drive farther to reach a VA medical facility for care if the VA plan is implemented. Corey said the net effect of the plan would be to reduce critical services for the most vulnerable veterans, something VVA believes would violate a 1996 law governing the VA’s medical system capacity. 

“We do not understand how the VA can implement a plan that on the face of it appears to violate the law’s requirement that the VA maintain adequate capacity to serve our most vulnerable veterans. We will be examining all available options for responding to this blow to the veteran’s health care system.” 

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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