Johanns Presses VA For Action On Omaha Area Veterans Hospital
Senator Mike Johanns today wrote a letter to Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), requesting the results of a VA feasibility study on the Omaha VA Medical Center. In a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday, Johanns outlined to VA officials the facility's state of disrepair and the importance of building a new facility or updating the nearly 60 year-old facility to 21st-century health and infrastructure standards. He also called on them to release a feasibility study that was due two months ago.
"The Omaha VA Medical Center, which provides care to many of Nebraska's military heroes, is in disrepair," Johanns said. "It is time to take the next steps to address the problem and I will continue to press the VA to do so. By teaming with Nebraska's medical institutions, I am confident that we can provide care worthy of those who have sacrificed so much for our country."
In September 2008, the VA was authorized to conduct a feasibility study on the Omaha VA Medical Center, which was concluded in early May 2009. The finalized study will assess whether or not the facility meets the VA's current guidelines for safety and structural security. VA officials assured Senator Johanns at the hearing that this study will be provided within the next few months. Regardless of the findings in the feasibility study, VA officials at the hearing expressed a commitment to the Omaha VA Medical Center, and promised to upgrade, at a minimum, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.
Below is the full text of the letter sent June 11, 2009 to Secretary Shinseki:
June 11, 2009
Secretary Eric Shinseki
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
On June 10, 2009, I participated in a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the construction processes for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In that hearing, I asked about a feasibility study on the Omaha VA Medical Center (Omaha VAMC). This study was authorized by Congress last year (S. Rept. 110-428 to accompany Public Law 110-329).
A representative of the VA at the hearing indicated that the feasibility study had been delivered to the VA earlier this year and was currently under review. A series of questions arose as a result of the hearing. These questions include:
1. When do you estimate the study will be released to the Committees on Appropriations of both chambers of Congress as required by law? I would appreciate a date certain for the release of the study.
2. Will this study be released to the public? If so, when?
3. If that study calls for corrective action, including major renovations or the construction of a new facility, how will such findings affect the ability of the Omaha VAMC to receive the necessary corrective action?
4. Will the feasibility study have any bearing on the VA's decision to prioritize the Omaha VAMC for renovation or construction?
Thank you in advance for your willingness to provide this information. I look forward to your prompt response.
United States Senator