Congress Must Act To Repair and Reopen the Manhattan VA
Posted by Kate O'Gorman on December 20
UPDATE: The Senate passed the Hurricane Sandy Relief Package with a vote of 62-32 on Friday, December 28th. Check out the roll call here. The bill has now been sent to the House where is faces a crowded calendar in the final days of 2012. IAVA urges the House to quickly pass the Hurricane Sandy Relief Package to restore care to New York City veterans.
IAVA will continue to post updates on this blog through the New Year.
This week, Congress is debating a Hurricane Sandy Relief Package that will send emergency funding to areas impacted by the storm. While they will go back and forth over every expense, one thing is clear: funding must be provided to repair and reopen the Manhattan VA.
The hospital sustained enormous damage during Hurricane Sandy and was forced to close. Flooding destroyed many of its facilities and critical medical equipment. It will have to undergo significant repairs before it can restore care to the tens of thousands of veterans in the New York City-area.
Following Hurricane Sandy, IAVA received many calls from veterans in New York City expressing the extent to which they rely on VA services and their concerns about the struggle to access these services without the hospital. IAVA Member Veteran Phoebe Gavin explained their concerns best when she said, “It’s critical that veterans like me have easy access to medical care near our homes. This hospital provides services that my fellow veterans count on every day -- from counseling to prescription refills -- and we need Congress to step up and do the right thing here.”
Congress has measures on the table that could provide a path to recovery for the Manhattan VA in the Hurricane Sandy Relief Package. This package will provide the critical funding that the VA needs to (1) repair the damage the Manhattan VA sustained from Hurricane Sandy and (2) fund services to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish temporary care for New York’s veterans while the Manhattan VA is repaired. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this package to restore care to New York’s veterans.
Unfortunately, there are some roadblocks preventing the quick passage. The current package contains provisions to provide immediate funds for Sandy Relief, like repairing the Manhattan VA, and to prevent future damage from similar storms. Unfortunately some Senators have added measures that contain spending for things seemingly unrelated to Hurricane Sandy. And others hope to do the bare minimum now, wanting to have a more lengthy debate on other Hurricane Sandy spending later. We need Congress to reconcile these differences now and pass legislation to help the Manhattan VA recover from Hurricane Sandy.
Congress must act now so that the Manhattan VA can be repaired and reopened in the fastest possible manner. New York City-area veterans need access to the care and services that they depend on as soon as possible.
Kate O'Gorman is IAVA's Political Director and works out of our Washington, DC office.
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