New Hampshire's congressional delegation today welcomed news that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will begin meeting with health care providers in the Colebrook area to discuss establishing a part-time VA clinic. The VA's announcement, received in a letter to the delegation from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, came in response to repeated calls from Senators Shaheen and Ayotte and Congresswomen Kuster and Shea-Porter over the need to expand access to veterans healthcare in the North Country.
North Country veterans often travel more than 130 miles to access VA facilities in Littleton, Conway, or Manchester. Given the region's mountainous terrain and hazardous weather, travel time for basic appointments can exceed two and a half hours each way.
The New Hampshire congressional delegation has repeatedly urged the VA to establish a clinic in Coos County to provide easier access to care. In an April letter to the VA, the delegation specifically recommended the opening of a part-time clinic.
"This is an important step forward in our efforts to improve access to health care for North Country veterans, who currently face significant difficulties in receiving VA health care services," said the delegation in a joint statement. "We're pleased that, in response to our requests, the VA will consider establishing a clinic in Colebrook to address this problem."
In response to the delegation's repeated requests, Secretary Shinseki said "The White River Junction VAMC is committed to providing enhanced access for Veterans residing in the north market, and intends to meet with existing health care organizations in northern New Hampshire to explore potential colocation of a part-time VA clinic in an existing facility."