Health care is the hot topic for all Minnesotans right now, but for years, local veterans have had health care on their minds. Specifically, they have been waiting for a long-overdue health care clinic that will give them access to convenient services without having to go to the VA medical centers in St. Cloud or Minneapolis. For over a year now, I have worked hard to make sure that this project progresses with all due haste.
When I became involved in this issue during my first term in Congress, local veterans were concerned not only that the clinic project didn't seem to be getting any closer to completion, but also that the powers-that-be at the VA were going to establish the clinic in Maple Grove. That location would make the clinic far less convenient to the large populations of veterans that live in the counties between the two veterans medical centers, right in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District.
Throughout the process, my goals have been two-fold: First, to get the VA to make progress on establishment of this clinic at one of the many very good locations available in Minnesota's Sixth District. This is about increasing access to care for veterans, so the clinic should go where the veterans are, plain and simple. I'm pleased that the clinic now appears to be right on track in this regard and veterans will be well-served at any of the various locations that are now on the table.
My second goal was to get information to local veterans and community leaders who had felt left in the dark for years, lacking information and answers. By bringing the VA secretary to Minnesota's Sixth District last year and by hosting this series of meetings, I've tried to keep the process open and the flow of information freely running.
This is a critical issue for local veterans and they are my first and only concern here. Whether the clinic is established in Anoka or Sherburne counties will be decided by the experts at the VA. In fact, that very process is what the contracting officials I invited to my third public meeting on Oct. 1 discussed. My only preference all along has been that the clinic be established in a central location between the two medical centers, and that falls squarely in Minnesota's Sixth District, not in Maple Grove.
Minnesota 6th District