U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines is calling on President Biden to consult with Montana veterans about the impacts of closing rural Montana VA health care facilities.
“For many elderly Veterans, VA facilities are the only place they seek care. The reasons Veterans often cite are that they are better understood, respected, and cared for at their local VA Medical Center (VAMC). VA facilities often serve as the crux for elderly Veterans’ community. Time and time again, we have been told by elderly Veterans that they enjoy visiting their VAMCs. They build networks of friends and VA staff that serve as support groups and keep them connected with their service. In an increasingly digital world, we cannot discount the importance of the human interaction and connection our Veterans find at VA facilities, particularly with in-person services,” Daines wrote.
“We have been disappointed and concerned by the VA’s lack of assessment of qualitative data and how its recommendations will specifically impact elderly Veterans. Receiving feedback from Congress, local VA staff, and most importantly local Veteran communities must be a crucial step in your assessment of the AIR Commission’s final recommendations. Veterans have put their lives on the line to protect this country. They deserve consistent, accessible, quality care when they return. That’s the promise we made to these brave men and women when they took their oath to serve, and that’s the promise we intend to keep,” the letter continues.
Read Daines’ full letter to President Biden HERE.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs released its preliminary recommendations for the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to consider last month.
The report recommended closing the Plentywood, Glasgow and Browning clinics and the Miles City Community Living Center. It also recommended reducing service at the Billings-Majestic Health Care Center.
These VA recommendations will carry considerable weight and be considered by a forthcoming AIR Commission which will then produce final recommendations for Congress and the President.
Last month, Daines slammed reports of the VA quietly shuttering Montana veteran health care facilities and spoke directly with VA Secretary McDonough to share his concerns.
On February 4, Daines sent a letter to the VA calling for transparency and answers on decisions impacting Montana veterans. This includes an investigation which found 1,600 potentially ineligible providers in the VA’s system, the VA consolidating Community Care offices and pending VA health care facility closures.