Senator Murray Urges VA to Fund Walla Walla VA Medical Center and to Support Effort to Provide Long-Term Care for Veterans on Site

Jun 13 2007

Murray adds language to key Senate bill that pushes the VA to support local priorities at Walla Walla VA Medical Center

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray announced she added language to a key Senate bill calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to include funding for construction of an outpatient clinic in Walla Walla in the President's fiscal year 2009 budget request.  Additionally, she included language that urges the VA to support the creation of a long term care facility for Veterans in Walla Walla.  Senator Murray, who sits on the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, today included the language in the Subcommittee's fiscal year '08 funding bill.  The language that Murray inserted reads:          

Walla Walla Outpatient Facility

"The Committee is aware of the substantial number of veterans served by the Walla Walla, Washington VA Medical Center and is supportive of the VA's decision to approve construction of an outpatient clinic in Walla Walla, Washington as part of the CARES process. In order to complete the construction of this project in a timely manner, the Committee urges the VA to include funding for this project in the fiscal year 2009 budget request." 

Walla Walla Extended Care Facility

"The Committee is aware of the collaborative efforts of the Walla Walla VA Medical Center and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs to meet the long term care needs of veterans in Southeast Washington and Northern Oregon by building a long term care facility on the Walla Walla VA Medical Center grounds. The Committee supports the creation of a jointly operated veterans’ home in Walla Walla, Washington, and encourages the VA to promptly review this application and place on the priority list for funding in FY 2008 from the Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities account."

"Our veterans in southeast Washington and northern Oregon rely on the Walla Walla VAMC for their care, and it is the VA's responsibility to make sure that this facility meets their needs," Murray stated.  "It is critical that the VA request funding for the outpatient clinic in February 2008.  I will continue to work with anyone and everyone to make sure our veterans receive the care they have earned." 

Duane Cole, Walla Walla City Manager said, "The Senator's support has been stellar throughout this process.  We would not have made it this far without her help.  The proposed long-term care facility for veterans provides a great opportunity for the federal and state levels to work together to address this need." 

Ron Fry, Deputy Commander of the Blue Mountain Veterans Coalition, applauded Murray's efforts, "We fully support Senator Murray's efforts to accelerate funding for the clinic and the long-term care facility.  Everyday, veterans in this area are suffering because they can't get in and be treated.  Senator Murray understands this, and is trying to fix the problem." 

Senator Murray is a national leader on veteran's issues and a key member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in addition to her role on MilCon/VA.  She led the fight against the VA CARES Commission's decision to close the Walla Walla VAMC, and has continued to work to ensure that the facility remains in Walla Walla.  In April of 2004 she held a VA Committee field hearing to hear from area veterans about their concerns with the facility.  She also secured $250,000 in FY05 to fund the Walla Walla VA Task Force. 

Murray's language passed the MilCon/VA Subcommittee today and is expected to be approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow, June 14, 2007.