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Letter to James Peake, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Re: Veterans Concerns In Future Plans For St Albans VA

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to James Peake, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Re: Veterans Concerns In Future Plans For St Albans VA

Senator Clinton Urges VA Secretary To Consider Veterans Concerns In Future Plans For St Albans VA

Calls for more Local Advisory Panel (LAP) meetings so VA can hear concerns of the local community firsthand

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is urging Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake, to carefully consider the opinions of local veterans and community leaders as he proceeds with plans for the future of the St. Albans VA Medical Center in Queens. In a letter to Secretary Peake, Senator Clinton called on the VA to hold additional Local Advisory Panel hearings to ensure the views and feedback of local veterans and the community are fully incorporated into the Department's decision making process. Senator Clinton noted that no LAP meeting has been held at St. Albans since January 2007, despite the great interest of local veterans in the future of the campus.

"The voices of local veterans and the community as a whole were the ones that kept the St Albans VA open and they should once again be taken into consideration as the redevelopment process moves forward," Senator Clinton said. "This is a facility that serves so many veterans but also has an impact on the community at large. I am concerned that no LAP meeting has been held since January 2007 and I hope that the VA convenes another meeting soon so that we can ensure that everyone's voices are heard."

Senator Clinton was a tireless advocate of keeping open the Manhattan and Brooklyn VA hospitals throughout the VA's Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) and welcomed plans to modernize St Albans.

A copy of Senator Clinton's letter is attached -

The Honorable James B. Peake
Secretary
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary Peake:

I write with great interest regarding the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) process, and particularly the VA's ongoing planning for the future of the St. Albans VA Medical Center in Queens. While I am pleased that in August 2006 the VA chose not to close the St. Alban's facility, I do have significant concerns with respect to the current process of planning for the future of St. Albans. Specifically, I am troubled that local veterans have not had the opportunity to fully express their views as the VA solicits proposals to carry out the modernization and potential use of vacant land on the St. Albans campus.

Only by communicating consistently and openly with our veterans can we effectively follow through on our solemn promise that those who serve in uniform will have access to first-rate health care at VA facilities. In my view, it is imperative that the VA seek out and fully consider the thoughts and concerns of the local community - and the veterans who rely on St. Albans in particular - as various options for the future use of the campus are reviewed. Indeed, any future plans for the St. Albans campus should be focused first and foremost on fully meeting the needs of local veterans.

Throughout the CARES process, Local Advisory Panel (LAP) meetings have proven essential in enabling the VA to hear firsthand the concerns of the local community. Unfortunately, no LAP meeting has been held at St. Albans since January 2007, despite the great interest of local veterans in the future of the campus. In light of this fact, I urge you to hold LAP meetings on a more consistent basis in order to keep the local community informed of new developments and to ensure that their views and feedback are fully incorporated into the Department's decision making process.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to working with you to ensure that New York veterans - and indeed, veterans across the country - receive the care and support they deserve.

Sincerely,


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