News Releases

Senator Murray, "CARES Commission Rejects Vancouver VA Closure"

Dec 18 2003

Senator says, "Vancouver and Southwest Washington veterans saved the facility with their determined advocacy."

(Washington, DC) -- At a public hearing in Washington, D.C. today, the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission met to finalize recommendations for Secretary of Veterans' Affairs Anthony Principi. The CARES Commission has indicated its final report will likely be submitted to Secretary Principi in the next month.

In discussing the VISN 20 recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs' which included the potential closure of the Vancouver VA facility, the CARES Commission stated that it does not concur with the draft informal plan for Vancouver. The Commission recommends Vancouver maintain its mission which is a full service facility. The Commission went on to recommend that the VA should look to expand services at Vancouver.

"This is great news for Vancouver. Clearly, the CARES Commission saw firsthand that the Vancouver VA facility is an important asset with strong support from the community and Southwest Washington veterans," Senator Murray said. "I am convinced that Vancouver and Southwest Washington veterans saved the facility with their determined advocacy. I want to thank Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard for his passionate leadership. I am proud to have been a part of this great team effort on behalf of the Vancouver VA."

In July, Senator Murray revealed the directive from Washington, D.C. to VISN 20 leaders to study the closure of three VA medical facilities in Washington state – American Lake in Tacoma, Vancouver and Walla Walla. Murray confronted the Administration and was quickly given assurances by VA Secretary Principi that American Lake was no longer on the potential closure list.

In spite of this news, Murray opposed the potential closure of the Vancouver and Walla Walla facilities. Senator Murray visited with veterans served by both facilities several times and submitted testimony to the CARES Commission September hearings in Vancouver and Walla Walla.

"The CARES Commission is doing the right thing for Southwest Washington veterans by rejecting the closure recommendation for the Vancouver VA facility. And importantly, this facility will be there for our soldiers now in Iraq and Afghanistan who will come home in need of care and assistance from the VA," Murray said.

Senator Murray’s testimony at the 9/26/03 Vancouver CARES Commission hearing.