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VA Hospital should not be closed down

Sept. 12, 2003

Staff editorial

Even amidst post Sept. 11 patriotism and as American soldiers are returning home from Iraq, the Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) are closing doors in the faces of our nations veterans, literally.

A proposal from the Texas Department of Veterans Affairs, in accordance with CARES, plans to close Waco's VA Hospital after 71 years of service, in addition to seven other such hospitals nationwide. In place of the eight regional hospitals, CARES proposes the opening of two new hospitals in Las Vegas, Nev. and Orlando, Fla.

Currently, such hospitals provide American veterans with the health care guaranteed to them by the U.S. government upon their enlistment or commission into the U.S. armed forces. Patients are able to receive psychiatric care for illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and hospitals even offer blind rehabilitation, among the general health care treatments of the often elderly veterans.

The Lariat strongly believes the Texas Department of Veteran Affairs should not force the closure of the Waco hospital. Such closure would not only seriously impact the Waco economy, but would also affect veterans and place unneeded burdens on the veterans and their families.

The hospital provides jobs for more than 800 health care, administration and maintenance workers, among others.

The biggest burden, however, lies on the patients, who were promised this health care by the government. Waco's hospital cares for about 17, 250 veterans. Only 250 beds are available for these vets in Temple. Therefore, they and their families would have to travel across the country, or pay significantly for other arrangements.

Texas and CARES should take heed of the Waco citizens' urgings and the concerns of our veterans and keep the doors open.