November 06, 2003
Enid Doggett
Diane Witiak
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Urges Congress To Overhaul VA Reorganization Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C.—“The current Department of Veterans Affairs proposals to close VA facilities and reduce services should not be implemented until the VA adequately plans for the long-term care, domiciliary care and mental health care needs of current and future veterans,” says John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

Under a planning process—Capital Assets Realignment for Enhanced Services, known as CARES—the VA is proposing to close facilities in Canandaigua, N.Y.; Pittsburgh; Lexington-Leestown, Ky.; Brecksville, Ohio; Gulfport, Miss.; Waco, Texas; Vancouver, Wash.; Livermore, Calif.; and Knoxville, Iowa. Under the CARES plan the VA is also considering outsourcing 100 percent of inpatient care at Bedford, Mass.; Montrose, N.Y.; Montgomery, Ala.; Kerrville, Texas; White City, Ore.; and Walla Walla, Wash. The VA is also proposing to significantly reduce hospital services in Hot Springs, S.D. and Big Spring, Texas.

“Proposing to close VA nursing homes and inpatient beds without fully considering how the VA will meet the surging long-term care needs of the elderly and disabled is just wrong-headed,” added Gage.

AFGE supports the bi-partisan efforts by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to make sure that before implementing any proposals to close facilities or reduce veterans’ services, the VA plan must address the long-term care, domiciliary care, and mental health care needs of current and future veterans,” adds Gage.

The Senators’ are planning to offer their amendment on CARES to the VA-HUD Appropriations bill.

“Our nation made a long-standing promise to anyone who serves in our Armed Forces—we pledge that the VA stands ready to care for soldiers who need healing,” concludes Gage. “This promise should not be broken because the VA closed facilities or reduced services without fully considering the impact on aging, ill, disabled and homeless veterans.”

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