U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today welcomed news effectively ending a process that threatened to reduce physical and mental health services for Eastern Oregon veterans.
The news this week that Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and a bipartisan group of senators will block the veterans Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission comes amid Wyden pressing the Veterans Administration (VA) through town halls Wyden secured for Eastern Oregon veterans, their families and veterans service providers to ask top VA officials their questions about proposed VA cuts and service changes that would have gone to the AIR Commission for consideration.
Wyden shared Eastern Oregon veterans’ concerns at a June 4 town hall about VA recommendations that the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in Walla Walla be reclassified as a community-based outpatient clinic and to move its 31-bed residential rehabilitation treatment program 180 miles north of Walla Walla to Spokane.
“What I heard earlier this month from veterans in Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker and Morrow counties was their deep and well-justified concern about how these proposals would undercut the quality and accessible care they earned with their service to our country ,” said Wyden, who also wrote a letter last month to the VA detailing the rural Oregon veterans’ concerns. “The end to the process that could have led to poorer and more distant care for Eastern Oregon veterans is good news, and I’ll continue to advocate for these rural veterans to ensure these ill-considered proposals don’t resurface.”