CHARLESTON, WV – Ted Diaz, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance (WVDVA) expressed today his concerns with suggested changes to VA services within West Virginia.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs released its Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) report on March 14, which included recommendations from the VA Secretary to modernize facilities and realign priorities. The list of recommendations would significantly reduce service available in VA Medical Facilities located in West Virginia.
Three VA Medical Centers in West Virginia – the Beckley VA Medical Center, the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, and the Hershel “Woody” Williams VAMC in Huntington – would see a reduction in services and discontinue in-patient and emergency room care.
“Our Veterans answered the nation’s call. They showed up to fight with the understanding that, if they made it back, the nation would take care of their wounds,” Secretary Diaz said. “We will not allow the VA to abdicate its responsibility without a fight.”
The VA Mission Act requires the VA Secretary to publish the AIR report in the Federal Register for a period of public comment and submit it to Congress and the presidentially appointed AIR Commission. The AIR Commission will conduct public hearings as part of its review of the VA’s recommendations before submitting its own recommendations to the president for review in 2023.
“At the direction of Governor Justice, my staff and I have voiced our concerns to our federal elected leaders in D.C., asking them to represent the interests of West Virginia Veterans,” Diaz added. “I do not believe Veterans should have to choose between living in communities they love and having reasonable access to health care. So I encourage all West Virginians and everyone who supports our Veterans and their families to reach out to their congressional representatives and ask them to contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in opposition of these harmful recommendations.”
The recommendations, as proposed, would move services now provided by VA facilities in West Virginia to VA facilities in states as far away as Connecticut, requiring Veterans to travel across several states for long-term care. These would include services such as spinal cord injuries/disorders and blindness rehabilitation, among others.