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Why we need a veterans health center in San Joaquin County

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Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2005 10:00 pm

On Nov. 11, 1918, at 5 a.m. in a railroad car in Compiegne France, an agreement was signed to end World War I. The cease-fire and armistice would be effective at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. A national holiday was established on this day to commemorate Armistice Day — the end of the “war to end all wars.”

In 1939, the world found itself at war again. The price of freedom is high. Constant vigilance and a sacrifice of our citizenry is required to protect it. In 1954, the name of Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to remember and honor the men and women who served and sacrificed in all wars to protect our way of life — our freedom.

As we reflect on Veterans Day, we remember and honor all those whose sacrifices have given us the freedoms we enjoy today. We remember the veterans of the “war to end all wars.” We also remember the veterans of World War II, and their younger brothers who fought in that frozen land called Korea.

We remember their children who stood fast against the “evil empire.” Today their grandchildren have answered freedom’s call by serving in the Middle East and facing the most recent insidious threat.

In San Joaquin County alone there are more than 44,000 veterans; add to those, the 10,000 veterans in Amador and Calaveras counties and Galt — and the total is more than 54,000 veterans.

Most of these veterans are over 50 years old and must currently travel to the VA medical center in Livermore for health care.

The VA has proposed improving access to patient care by moving services closer to where patients live, closing the Livermore medical center, and transferring those services to a Central Valley regional clinic, and potentially co-locating its existing Livermore nursing home to a regional health care site.

Contacts

Those involved in the site selection for a VA regional health care center:

Local Advisory Panel Committee

Livermore VA Medical Center

3801 Miranda Ave.

Palo Alto, CA 94304

Lisa Freeman

VA Healthcare System

3801 Miranda Ave.

Palo Alto, CA 94304-1207

Robert L. Wiebe, MD

Director VA Sierra Pacific Network

201 Walnut St.

Mare Island, CA 94592

Sen. Barbara Boxer

United States Senate

Hart Senate Office Building, Suite 112

Washington, DC 20510

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

United States Senate

Hart Senate Office Building, Suite 331

Washington, DC 20510

Congressman Richard Pombo

United States House of Representatives

2411 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Congressman Dennis Cardoza

United States House of Representatives

503 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Jim Nicholson

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20420

San Joaquin County has invited the VA to locate the proposed Central Valley VA Regional Health Care Clinic and Nursing Home to French Camp on the San Joaquin General Hospital campus. The county has proposed to lease the VA facilities for $1 a year, and to assist the VA in financing the new facilities.

More than half the patients in the Livermore nursing home are from the Central Valley. Additionally, almost 65 percent of the Central Valley veterans served by the Livermore VA medical center are from San Joaquin, Amador and Calaveras counties.

The existing Stockton VA clinic is located on the San Joaquin General Hospital campus. In addition, a new building is currently under construction for the Stockton VA Clinic on the Hospital campus. Maintaining the location that veterans are already familiar with, and the added benefit of being adjacent to a full-service hospital and public health campus, would provide acute and emergency care for veterans and their families.

The county’s proposed site for the Central Valley VA Health Care facilities is adjacent to Interstate 5, and is directly accessible by all of the major freeways serving California’s entire Central Valley.

The proposal submitted by San Joaquin County to the VA is supported by veterans groups and local governments in San Joaquin, Amador and Calaveras counties, and has recently been endorsed by the city of Stockton, the city of Tracy, and Alex G. Spanos, a member of the Karl Ross American Legion Post No. 16.

However, in order to make this clinic a reality, community support is critical. Members of the community are strongly urged to join our veterans in writing to the VA, as well as our elected representatives, in full support of a Central Valley regional health care facility in San Joaquin County.

As our veteran population increases and matures, greater health care options will be required.

Our veterans have served, and continue to serve to protect the freedoms that we all hold dear.

The future veterans who are now fighting will be returning home soon and will require ongoing medical care.

With Veterans Day weekend just past, I ask each and every one of you to remember our veterans and their families by committing your support to secure a new Central Valley VA regional health care facility in San Joaquin County.

Ron Green is the San Joaquin County Veterans Services Officer

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