Sens. Hutchison, Cornyn Express Strong Support For Waco VA Hospital

In: All News   Posted 08/22/2003

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, urged the CARES Commission to support the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Waco. U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards (D-11) also joined the two Senators in signing a letter to Everett Alvarez, Jr., Chairman of the CARES Commission, who will make a recommendation to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, about the future of the Waco VA hospital."I am very disappointed that the Department of Veterans Affairs would recommend a proposal that would clearly have a negative impact on our veterans,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Our veterans have served our nation faithfully and I’m committed to ensuring that they continue to receive the care and treatment they need and deserve from the Waco VA hospital.”"We ask you to fully weigh the Waco center’s unique capabilities and sound standing in the community as you consider your recommendations to Secretary Principi,” the letter stated.- See below for the letter sent to the CARES Commission -- Hon. Everett Alvarez, Jr. Chairman, CARES Commission 810 Vermont Ave, NW (00CARES) Washington, DC 20420 Dear Mr. Chairman: As you begin your independent review of the draft national plan to improve health care services for veterans, we write to express concern for the future of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Waco, Texas. the Waco center has a long, rich history of service to veterans from across America. It is the only in-patient, long-term psychiatric hospital in Texas providing care for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and chronic and severe mental illness. The Waco center also provides rehabilitation for blind and hearing-impaired veterans. Most of the center’s buildings have been renovated within the past 10 years at a cost of approximately $80 million. These facilities are in excellent condition and can easily expand their services. Our military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and globally against terrorism mean the ranks will grow of veterans who need medical care. The Waco facility can accommodate them. the community and city leadership in Waco and McLennan County are prepared to work creatively with the VA to reduce the operational costs at the hospital. This may include public-private partnering, leasing out of excess facilities, or moving other VA or government operations in leased facilities into the Waco VA hospital campus. All of these approaches have proven successful in the past in reducing operational costs at military bases such as Ft. Sam Houston and Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. we are proud of the longstanding, warm relationship between the VA center and the City of Waco. A VA facility can only care for patients with special needs if it has the clear backing of its neighboring community. The compassionate, supportive climate in Waco for veterans and their families has evolved over 70 years and would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate anywhere else in the state. we ask you to fully weigh the Waco center’s unique capabilities and sound standing in the community as you consider your recommendations to Secretary Principi. Sincerely,Kay Bailey Hutchison John Cornyn Chet EdwardsU.S. Senator U.S. Senator Member of Congress