(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
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.