IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

May 12, 2004

No. 04-033


Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000
Ext. 146

 
Vietnam Veterans of America Questions Promises
of Department of Veterans Affairs Realignment Plan
 


(Washington, D.C.) – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary Anthony Principi recently released his decisions on the reconfiguration of the VA’s facilities and health care services. “While we have criticized aspects of the process employed by the VA to determine hospital usage, we now have for review a blueprint that aims to guide the VA health-care system into the future,” said Thomas H. Corey, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America.

VVA has worked with the VA to identify critical care areas that require special attention, and we are pleased that Secretary Principi has taken into account many of our concerns: Are there enough centers for rehabilitating blinded veterans and veterans suffering spinal cord injuries? In these areas, he announced the opening of two blind rehabilitation centers and the creation of four - and expansion of five existing - spinal cord injury centers.

Will there be adequate capacity to treat veterans with long-term-care needs if facilities are closed or reconfigured? Secretary Principi has stated, “No veteran will lose health care as a result of Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES), nor will there be any gaps in health-care services.”

“We remain particularly concerned by the lack of beds and staff to treat the psychiatric and neuropsychological wounds of war,” Corey said. “We are deeply concerned that the plan excludes ‘Priority 8’ veterans. VVA is also interested in ensuring that the promise of equity for access to care for rural veterans will be achieved.

“We will work to ensure that questions left unaddressed, including the realignment of facilities in New York City, Ohio, Georgia, California, and other states will reflect the input of local veterans and will not result in any undue burden on sick and injured veterans who use these services.

“Above all, VVA will continue to press hard until the VA performs a proper needs assessment to make VA a true veterans’ health-care system that can deal with wounds, illnesses, and toxic exposures that exist on the modern battlefield,” Corey said.

Despite the promise of $1 billion for construction for the next fiscal year, VVA questions whether even twice this amount will be enough to transform the promise of CARES into reality.

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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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