WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Friday, the House and Senate approved an expansion of the authorized spending cap for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Denver medical center project to $1.05 billion—a decision that gives the VA the ability to spend the additional $150 million that it has identified as being immediately available. Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is pleased to see the House and Senate take action on this issue and released the following statement from its Executive Director Homer Townsend Jr., regarding the approved expansion:
“This decision reflects the importance that Congress has placed on completing the new VA medical center in Denver. Moreover, it ensures that health care provided directly by the VA to veterans living in Colorado and the mountain states region remains a high priority.”
Hundreds of thousands of veterans in Colorado and the surrounding region will rely on the services provided by this new facility. The hospital is particularly important to Paralyzed Veterans because it includes a new, 30-bed Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D) center, thus removing the need for severely disabled veterans in Colorado to travel 500 miles to Albuquerque, New Mexico, or more than 1,000 miles to Long Beach, California, for acute care and annual examinations.
For too long, veterans with SCI/D have been underserved in this region. The Denver VA hospital will allow members to get comprehensive care closer to home. The SCI/D center will also benefit the many veterans who have moved to Colorado because of the ameliorating effects high altitudes have on Multiple Sclerosis.
Paralyzed Veterans believes the best way forward is for Congress to continue to provide direct appropriations for the project. While the VA offered two options for funding the remainder of this project two weeks ago, both of those options are completely unacceptable. One option would allow VA to make an across-the-board cut in all discretionary programs to gain the necessary funding. This move would have an immediate detrimental impact on the delivery of health care and benefits services to all veterans.
Another option would allow VA to defer some major and minor construction projects indefinitely to gain the necessary funding. However, Paralyzed Veterans rejects this option as it includes deferring four SCI/D specific projects thereby jeopardizing the health care of the most catastrophically disabled veterans who also await improved access to quality care through new construction projects in other states.
Rather than view this as a need for additional resources to answer growing demand, Paralyzed Veterans maintains it is more a reflection of what health care actually costs to care for the 9 million veterans who rely on VA. Therefore, we urge Congress to fund this project to completion without further delay.
The day after the 9/11 attacks, few would have demanded that our country place a limit on the cost of freedom. Our Nation had accepted that cost on a deferred basis and reaped the benefits. Now the debt has come due, and it must be paid.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)