October 23, 2002
John Irvine
(202) 639-6419

Veterans Will Be Left Out In The Cold

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently proposed closing medical beds at the Northern Indiana Health Care System, in Marion, Ind. The decision means that veterans in need of care will be denied access as early as Veterans Day this year.

“The Marion VA has already shutdown surgery and the intensive care unit, gutted the cardiac care monitoring capacity, and closed an inpatient psychiatric care unit,” said Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and a veteran. “Now, they want to deliver a deathblow to Indiana’s veterans by doing away with the 18 remaining medical beds immediately.”

AFGE is concerned that the closing of beds at Marion is a harbinger of future bed closings nationwide as part of the VA’s national planning process to decide how to allot resources to provide care for veterans.

“Veterans will have to travel farther to receive needed inpatient care, costing the taxpayer more to provide that care through private contractors,” explained Bill Overbey, President of AFGE Local 1020, who represents healthcare providers at the facility.

“The Northern Indiana Health Care System has had a growth of 67 percent in patient care demand in the past two years,” added Overbey. “The VA should be increasing veterans access to care by increasing staff and restoring medical services to respond to this unprecedented demand for care, not closing beds.”

AFGE represents 600,000 federal and D.C. government employees, including 140,000 employees at the VA. For more information, log on to

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