A group of veterans are concerned about the future of Salem VA Medical Center

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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) — A veterans group is concerned about a proposal that could bring major changes to Salem VA Medical Center.

Members of the United Black Veterans Society of Virginia gathered just outside the grounds of the medical center Thursday morning.

They described their group as a humanitarian, civil rights, and veterans advocacy organization, and said they were highly skeptical of the VA Secretary’s recommendations that include building a new facility in Roanoke and closing of the Salem hospital.

“We’re watching you. We’ll follow what you do, but shutting down the VA, Action Plan A, is failing, it’s not good,” Deborah Saunders said. “You have to go back and rethink this one and rework that one.”

Senior staff attended the group meeting and said providing quality care is the primary focus for continued operations and planning for the future.

“This is not just a closure of Salem VA Medical Center,” Deputy Chief of Staff Dr. Thomas Martin said at the group’s event. He explained the recommendations which include building a new medical center in Roanoke, partnering with another organization to provide medical, surgical and emergency services to inpatients, and building another community outpatient clinic in Bedford.

But members of the group said many veterans feel they have been left in the dark and fear losing essential services.

“I think it makes them so uncomfortable for them,” Army veteran Marvin Johnson said, “because now they think I have a service that was taken away from me after I served.”

Members of the United Black Veterans Society say they will continue to monitor the process closely.

The next step will be next year, when the Assets and Infrastructure Review Commission presents its findings to President Biden.

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