(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation, Treasury, and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced she has secured $250,000 to help the Walla Walla VA Task Force ensure the future of the Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center in Walla Walla.
The funding, which would allow the community to study the use of potentially surplus land and buildings on the historic Fort Walla Walla site, was passed by the Senate Transportation, Treasury, and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee today. It now moves on to the full committee for consideration.
"Completing this study will be an important boost for the future of the Walla Walla VA. From the beginning, I've made working with and helping the local community advocates involved in the process my top priority. I hope this funding will go a long way toward helping them do what's best for local veterans, and the community as a whole. I look forward to continuing our work together," Murray said.
The greater Walla Walla community is working with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs toward a plan that would relieve the VA of some of the surplus property and buildings. The plan would allow the local VA to realize the budget efficiencies necessary to modernize the facilities currently in use and provide the local community with a historically significant economic development opportunity.
This funding would be used by the Walla Walla VA Task Force, in conjunction with the city, county and port authority to study the feasibility of their plan, including land use, environmental impact, transfer of property and upkeep of historically significant structures.
Murray has been working to protect the Walla Walla facility since it first appeared on the Administration's Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) closure list last year. Following a field hearing and several rounds of lobbying by Murray, a future use study was mandated in lieu of closure.
Since that announcement, Murray has again visited the facility to meet with community leaders and used her position on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to pass an amendment that assures Congressional review of any proposed VA Hospital changes before they take affect. The amendment requires the VA to provide notice, and require consent of the Congress, before any VA healthcare facility has its mission changed significantly.
Murray, the daughter of a World War II veteran, is the first woman to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee and represents Washington State's 670,000 veterans.