Brooklyn VA Medical Center will remain open after Senate Veterans Affairs Committee opposes proposal to close center

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Brooklyn VA Medical Center will remain open. Photo by Jaime DeJesus

The Brooklyn VA Medical Center is here to stay.

In March, fears were raised that the longtime hospital at 800 Poly Place could close after the Independent Assets and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission asked the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit its proposal to the commission. He recommended the closure of medical centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn VA.

However, on Tuesday, US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced that the AIR Committee process would not move forward.

“After months of fighting, I’m happy to report that the Manhattan and Brooklyn VA medical centers remain open and where they are,” Schumer said. “When I stood with our local vets, I promised them that I would not let this plan, to rip off local treatment without consultation with local leaders and without an interim plan of care, become a reality. I am proud to say that ‘a promise made is now a promise kept.

On Tuesday, bipartisan members of the Senate, including the chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, announced their formal opposition to the VA AIR Commission process.

A veteran at the rally at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center in March. Photo by Arthur De Gaète

“As senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that meets our obligations to American veterans,” they said. “We believe that the recommendations presented to the AIR Commission do not reflect this objective and would disadvantage rural and urban veterans, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move. forward.”

Without the approval of these members and the Senate, the commission and its nominees, no commission can be established and the process cannot move forward, ending the AIR Commission and saving downtown Brooklyn.

According to the recommendations of the Veterans Administration AIR Commission issued in March, over the next 10 years, listings in the “New York metropolitan market” are expected to decline by 23.1%, suggesting the need for many fewer beds.

The proposal stated, “Establish a strategic collaboration to provide inpatient medical and surgical services, outpatient surgical services, and emergency services and discontinue these services at the Brooklyn VAMC [Veterans Affairs Medical Center].”

Veteran Mike Sulsona (in a wheelchair), a Vietnam War veteran, at a rally to save the Brooklyn VA in March. Photo by Arthur De Gaète

“If unable to enter into a strategic collaboration, the Brooklyn VAMC will shift care to current or future community facilities or providers: The population served by the Brooklyn VAMC is declining. Enrollment in Kings County, where Brooklyn is located, is projected to decline 21.7% from 20,484 enrollees in fiscal year 2019 to 16,043 enrollees in fiscal year 2029,” the proposal states.

Rallies attended by passionate veterans and elected officials took place outside the Brooklyn VA Medical Center in March.

“It is totally unacceptable that the Biden administration has offered to close veterans hospitals across the country, including those right here in New York,” U.S. Representative Nicole Malliotakis said after the announcement. “I have worked diligently with House and Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to stop these proposed closures and protect the services that so many veterans in our community rely on.”

“The Senate’s efforts to block recommendations from the Assets and Infrastructure Review Commission (AIR) are an essential first step to ending these closures, however, if the President is truly serious about expanding health care for our country’s veterans, it should immediately announce that this proposal is dead on arrival.

“Veterans from near and far depend on the Brooklyn VA to access a variety of health and medical services, including mental health care, emergency services and general medical appointments,” it said Tuesday. State Senator Andrew Gonardes. “Our brave veterans who risked their lives and health for our country deserve high quality health care.

“Our government has an obligation to provide all veterans with the physical and mental health care and benefits they not only promised, but deserve,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “We owe them that. Closing these hospitals was simply unconscionable and we needed to use every lever of power we had to stop these closings from happening in our backyard. »

“As someone who uses the VA and has seen firsthand the specialized care that only they can provide to veterans like me, I applaud the Senate VA committee for rejecting this disastrous bureaucratic proposal that would have snatched health care from thousands of veterans,” said former U.S. Representative Max Rose.

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