VA postpones local service cuts

'They're scaling back services because they think these budget savings aren't going to affect veterans," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said. 'We don't buy that."

The Oregon Democrat announced Wednesday that he reached an agreement with Dr. Susan Pendergrass, director of the VA's Veterans Integrated Services Network, that reductions will halted temporarily.

'I think it's a constructive step," Wyden said. 'I'm going to stay at this to make sure no veterans fall through the cracks."

Last month, the VA said it is considering eliminating emergency and inpatient services in Roseburg, citing a shortage of providers. The news came as a scare to local veterans, fearing they'd have to travel as far as Portland or Vancouver for certain services.

Vietnam veteran George Trott, 71, is eager to offer his input.

'I'm at 70 percent disability," said Trott, a lifelong Bandon resident. 'Cutting me back would really hurt. It would hurt a whole lot of us.

'I hope we can have some town hall meetings so we can sit in on that," he added.

The cuts would affect more than senior veterans. In January, a Roseburg VA hospital spokeswoman said the cuts could mean some of the 640 soldiers expected to return to the area this spring may have to get care elsewhere.

A state Department of Veterans' Affairs spokeswoman did not know when talks would begin.

'We're gong to make sure it covers the whole region. We want the South Coast to be heard on this, absolutely," Wyden said.

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