“There is good care for our vets, if they can get it,” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden told a group of South Coast Oregonians.
Wyden took questions in North Bend, OR, about proposed cuts to a local VA health clinic. Many of those present described long distances they must travel for specialized services and confusion within the Oregon VA about which treatments are offered in rural locations. Now, news of a proposed 10% cut in the Rosenburg VA Center’s funding had the crowd alarmed.
Wyden has declared a temporary moratorium on the plan to decrease funding.
Dr. Susan Pendergrass, regional director of VA’s Veterans Integrated Services Network, told the gathering that the problem is not adequate medical financing – it’s that the VA can’t recruit enough qualified doctors. “The realities of health care in rural Oregon require an alternative approach,” Pendergrass said.
Other rural VA health news: A major new VA clinic is under construction in Bangor, ME, to serve vets in northern Maine. At groundbreaking ceremonies, “U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud told a small audience of veterans and their families that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is committed to funding health services for veterans in rural areas.”
Meanwhile, the VA in Nebraska-Western Iowa is undertaking an outreach to rural vets, having determined that “one-third of them that are not using their VA health care benefits.”