Vets implore VA to keep Castle Point open

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NEW PALTZ – Veteran after veteran urged the Veterans Administration to keep Castle Point VA hospital open. They attended Thursday’s public hearing conducted by Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and Congressman Antonio Delgado, held in New Paltz, conveying their own stories and positive experiences at Castle Point and their fears and concerns if it were to close.

Ulster County Veterans Services Director Mark Cozzopoli, an Air Force veteran, said he could seek treatment at West Point but chooses to go to Castle Point because he feels the service is better.

“There is so much more need for healthcare now and closing Castle Point is in direct contradiction to that and speaking for Ulster County, we have no mental healthcare facilities and we are such a large, diverse rural community, where are they going to go,” he asked. “Are you telling us we are going to have to take them all down to Montrose or the Bronx or Albany and limiting our ability to help them.”

A federal commission has recommended that Castle Point be shuttered because of its aging facilities and be replaced with a smaller outpatient center. The process, if it is approved, would take some 10 years to complete, but local officials and veterans do not want to wait until then.

They want assurances that healthcare services for Hudson Valley veterans will not be diminished at any time going forward.