News Releases

Murray Moves Forward on Master Plan for Walla Walla VA Medical Center

May 07 2004

Senator Calls on VA Regional Director to Work with Local Community Leaders

Timeline of Senator Murray's Fight to Save Washington's VA Facilities

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) her efforts supporting the Walla Walla VA Medical Center, calling on VA Regional Director Dr. Leslie Burger to join her in meetings with the local community leadership and begin the master planning process called for by VA Secretary Anthony Principi.

On Thursday, Murray had a private meeting with Secretary Principi where he told her of his decision to maintain the mission at the Walla Walla VA Medical Center.

“Secretary Principi still has concerns about the amount of acreage and number of aging buildings that make up the campus,” Murray said. “We pledged to work together with the local community to create a master plan that would provide care for veterans in the region on the VA’s Walla Walla campus, create a partnership with the local community, and meet the VA’s needs.”

Just one day after receiving word that the Walla Walla VA had avoided the VA’s chopping block, Murray wrote to Dr. Burger requesting him to “to join (her) and the community of Walla Walla in a cooperative discussion to advance the master-planning process for the Jonathan M. Wainright VA Medical Center.”

Murray’s letter to Dr. Burger quoted the Secretary’s decision: “The Secretary’s decision regarding the Walla Walla VA Medical Center calls for ‘a comprehensive study to determine how to improve the environment of care in Walla Walla, while maximizing use of VA resources.’ The decision further states that “(the VA) will work closely with its stakeholders to ensure that this study, and its ensuing implementation, are managed effectively.”

Murray said that she was “pleased with the Secretary’s commitment to work with community stakeholders toward a collaborative solution,” and was confident that today’s visit by the VA’s Acting Under Secretary, Dr. Jonathan Perlin would begin that process.”

“I believe that a locally driven process will ensure that local veterans are cared for here in Walla Walla, while meeting the VA’s needs for this facility,” Murray said.

In its original report, the VA recommended closing three VA facilities in Washington state; American Lake VA Medical Center in Tacoma, Vancouver VA Medical Center and the Jonathan M. Wainright VA Medical Center in Walla Walla. Since that time, Murray has pushed VA Secretary Anthony Principi to protect each of these facilities and maintain critically needed health care services for Washington state’s nearly 700,000 veterans.

Murray, the daughter of a World War II veteran, is the first woman to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee.