WASHINGTON – The Castle Point Veterans Administration Hospital in Wappingers Falls, which was proposed to close and be replaced by a new facility, is a dead issue.
The independent Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission was considering development of a more out-patient based facility about 10 miles from the current hospital.
That drew the ire of Schumer, other federal lawmakers from the Hudson Valley, as well as local and regional elected officials and veterans’ groups.
Senator Charles Schumer, who announced the end of the saga, said the bipartisan Senate members including the chair and members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee announced their formal opposition to the VA AIR Commission process.
The senators issued a statement opposing the plan.
“As Senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans. We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal, and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward. The Commission is not necessary for our continued push to invest in VA health infrastructure, and together we remain dedicated to providing the Department with the resources and tools it needs to continue delivering quality care and earned services to veterans in 21st century facilities—now and into the future.”
Schumer said 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, signifying the end of the AIR Commission, and thus preserving the Castle Point VA.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro was pleased with the announcement. “We will continue to defend our veterans to ensure they always receive the benefits they have rightly earned through their service to our nation,” he said.
Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan also applauded the news. “The outcry from veterans and residents on the ground helped end a proposal that was simply unacceptable,” he said. “However, the fight is not over. Now we must push even harder for real investments to strengthen our regional VA services.”
“This unprecedented victory demonstrated that a community that stands together remains stronger together,” said Kevin Keaveny, executive director of the Hudson Valley National Center for Veteran Reintegration and Gain Walters, director of Vet2Vet of Ulster County.