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Making the VA Work for South Jersey Veterans
Our nation’s veterans have honorably served on behalf of all of us, endangering their lives to protect our freedom and liberties. We owe them not only our unwavering gratitude, but the services and support they were promised upon returning home. These are challenging times for our country and our veterans are not immune to hardship. It becomes even more critical that Congress and the VA produce results.
This month Congress approved a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans with service-connected disabilities and an increase to the rates of compensation for the survivors of disabled veterans. Signed by President Obama and effective December 1st, I cosponsored the legislation spearheaded by my New Jersey colleague Jon Runyan because it would ensure those veterans injured during their service were not unfairly financially penalized. As with many issues focused on the nation’s veterans, the COLA was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.
Congressional action is but one avenue to ensure our promise to veterans is kept. Likewise, we need to improve communication and coordination on the federal level between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA. It was recently announced that an inappropriate and unnecessary restriction on the sharing of information between the two departments with regards to healthcare treatments of veterans has been amended. With the increased use of electronic health records, the VA and DoD medical staff will now have access to a more complete, comprehensive assessment of a veteran’s medical history and needs, all without impeding on a veteran’s privacy. This is a positive step that will benefit all veterans.
For South Jersey veterans, improving healthcare services offered by the VA Medical Center in Wilmington in conjunction with our four community-based outpatient clinics involves not only increased coordination, but expanded services. Providing VA-quality healthcare services locally remains my highest priority and I’m pleased the new clinic in Northfield will be opening in the coming weeks.
Replacing the existing Ventnor facility, the new location in Northfield will offer approximately 10,000 square feet of space on the single floor building, making it more accessible for disabled veterans. It will expand on the services currently offered in Ventnor to include optometry, women’s health, podiatry and various tele-medicine services. It is also convenient to two mass transit lines with easy access to major roadways and plenty of surface and handicapped parking.
The opening of the Northfield clinic is the latest effort to bring additional healthcare services to South Jersey. It will be a compliment to the additional services that have come on-line or are planned at other South Jersey clinics in Vineland and Cape May as well as the referral-only partnerships established for dialysis with local providers. And it demonstrates a growing need from our veterans for further expansions and services to be provided by the VA in South Jersey communities, rather than requiring our veterans to go out-of-state for treatment.
On this Veterans’ Day, I encourage South Jersey residents to reflect on the service of our veterans and to show appreciation for the sacrifices they and their families have made for our nation. As President Reagan said on the beaches of Normandy, We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.
NOTE: Veterans needing assistance or additional information should contact the Mays Landing office by calling 1-800-471-4450 or 609-625-5008 or visit the Veterans page under “Constituent Services” on the website: www.lobiondo.house.gov