Last night, Congressman Joe Donnelly supported the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2011, which contains funding for a new VA Health Care Center Advance Planning account. The bill passed by the House yesterday evening would designate $15 million for planning VA Health Care Centers, such as the South Bend VA Health Care Center (HCC) announced by VA Secretary Shinseki in April 2009. The bill also officially recognizes the "urgent need for the planned facility expansion of outpatient and specialty care and contracted inpatient hospital care" in South Bend.
"This bill represents continued progress for the South Bend VA Health Care Center," said Donnelly. "House approval of new funds for the planning of VA HCCs and recognition of the importance of South Bend's HCC are important steps forward. I will continue to work closely with my colleagues in Congress and with the VA to see that we can start building this new facility for Hoosier veterans as soon as possible."
Congressman Donnelly participated in a brief colloquy on this issue on Wednesday afternoon with House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and VA Chairman Chet Edwards.
"As we all know, there are veterans across the country--including thousands in my district--who are forced to drive long distances to receive the medical care they earned through their service to the nation," said Donnelly. "I understand that included in this bill is $15 million for the VA Health Care Center Advance Planning account which would go toward new VA Health Care Centers and which could help these veterans."
"I understand that among the locations due a new VA Health Care Center is South Bend in the gentleman's district, and South Bend's demonstrated need for such an expansion of VA health care services was noted by the committee in the report language," said Chairman Edwards. "Furthermore, the committee expects that this account be utilized by VA as soon as it can."