Murray Announces Victory in Fight to Save Walla Walla VA Hospital

May 06 2004

Senator Applauds VA Secretary Principi’s Decision to Remove Walla Walla VA Center from Closure List

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

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced victory in the fight to save the Walla Walla VA Medical Center from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ chopping block. Murray received the news Thursday morning in a meeting with Anthony Principi, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“It is clear that the Secretary heard the concerns that I, along with local veterans and community leaders, have outlined time and again,” Murray said.

After nearly ten months of work to defend the hospital, including numerous private meetings, letters and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings, Murray applauded Secretary Principi’s decision to remove Walla Walla from the VA’s closure list, thereby preserving care for the region's 69,000 veterans.

Murray, who is a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, used her position to host an official committee field hearing in Walla Walla last month.

“The hearing we held in Walla Walla clearly showed that if this facility would have been closed, there was no viable alternative in the region to provide veterans with the level of healthcare they need,” 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 Principi to protect each of these facilities and maintain critically needed health care services for Washington state’s 670,000 veterans.

“From day one, I was absolutely opposed to closing any of these VA facilities,” Murray said. “I told our veterans that I wouldn’t forget how the VA had treated them, especially in Walla Walla, and I am pleased to announce that the VA got the message.”

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