Lynch called for the meeting to update veterans groups about the status of the VA’s Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) process, and discuss the impact that closing any of the 4 VA Hospitals in Greater Boston (Bedford,
Ralph Cooper, Executive Director of the Roxbury-based Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse, was disappointed that the VA has not been responsive to the concerns of local veterans throughout the CARES Process. Cooper said, "I want to hear the VA say, ‘We want to make the CARES process work for all veterans from all neighborhoods.’ I’m just not hearing that.”
The CARES Process began in 2004 as a study of how to modernize VA facilities throughout the country. In February 2004, the CARES Commission made its recommendations, which included studying the possibility of closing all four of
Unfortunately, as part of the announcement, the VA stated that it would now examine moving inpatient services from
Congressman Lynch said, "Well, I am pleased that the Veterans Administration recognized that closing the four VA hospitals in Greater Boston was a bad idea, although I am still concerned that they took such a long time and considerable expense to reach that conclusion. While the VA continues to consider consolidating the West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain facilities and moving critical services from
Veterans agents at the meeting Thursday outlined the impact that either move would have on their veterans.
Bob Gale, Veterans Agent for the City of
And Ted Mulvehill, Veterans Agent for
"Today we have some veterans waiting six to eight months to see a doctor, others being turned away at the door, and physical therapists in
Bob Arsenault, Veterans Agent for Hanson, echoed that sentiment, saying, "We can’t service the veterans we have today. How can they possibly be thinking about cutting back on services?”
Congressman Lynch noted that there are several possible uses for any excess space in VA Hospitals that aren’t being considered. Namely, he said, the space could be used either to create a new amputee center to help the large number of wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, or to create assisted living or nursing home style housing, something which is sorely lacking for our older veterans.
Mike Pazyra, Veterans Agent for the Town of
The meeting was also attended by Tom Materazzo (Former Commissioner of Veterans Services in Boston), Jim Campbell (Randolph Veterans Agent), David MacGillvray (on behalf of his brother, Natick Veterans Agent John MacGillvray), Ray Richards and Richard Langevin (Disabled American Veterans), representatives of Congressmen Ed Markey, Marty Meehan and Mike Capuano, and Wayne Szretter (VA Boston Healthcare System).
Lynch told the veterans that he would relay their concerns to the VA directly and that he had requested a meeting with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson and the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation in
Congressman Lynch said, "Hopefully, we can now focus on some other issues like paying our VA doctors, nurses, therapists and staff a salary that is commensurate with their skill and service, modernizing our existing VA facilities and improving the transportation system for veterans, so that they continue to get the high quality of care that they deserve. I will continue to work with the Congressional Delegation, the VA and our state veterans agents and advocacy groups to improve the VA health care system in our region.”