Paterson: Veterans’ Clinic May Get Reprieve

Source: North

A veterans’ medical clinic in the city may avoid shutdown after 12 United States senators announced plans to block a nationwide restructuring of health services for former members of the armed forces.

The senators, including the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a joint statement on Monday that the restructuring recommendations from a federal commission “would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage.”

The clinic in Paterson, which served 1,385 veterans in 2019, was one of 35 Veterans Affairs medical facilities around the country that were targeted for closure. The federal government’s plan was to direct veterans who used the Paterson clinic to go to a larger facility in Hackensack.

As part of the restructuring, the Asset and Infrastructure Review commission of the Veterans Affairs Department also had suggested the construction of 14 new VA hospitals around the country and 140 outpatient clinics, according to Military Times. The changes were designed in response to anticipated shifts in the size and location of the country’s veteran population, officials said.

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Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of Paterson applauded the senators’ pledge to stop the restricting plan, which he called “misguided, foolish and cruel.” Pascrell said the VA had opened the Paterson clinic in 2004 because the veterans’ health center in Hackensack was overcrowded and inconvenient.

“Those relying on our VA clinic in Paterson can breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.

Paterson’s gain may be Toms River’s loss. The commission had suggested opening a new veterans’ clinic in that Ocean County community.

The senators who banded together to say they would block the commission’s plan:

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana
Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

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