TRENTON – The full Senate approved a measure yesterday, sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew, to urge the United States Congress and the President to enact legislation establishing a regional veterans’ medical facility in southern New Jersey.
Currently, there is no federal Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient veterans’ medical center in the southern part of the state. While the VA has established small clinics in Ventnor, Cape May and Vineland, they are only equipped to perform certain types of outpatient medical services, and are often overwhelmed by the large number of veterans seeking care. As a result, veterans are forced to travel long distances to northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware to get care.
“The men and women who served in our Armed Forces should have the unique health care services they need within reach,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “This is the least we can do for those who served our country with dignity, fought for our freedoms and protected us, both on our soil and abroad.”
Passage of the Senate Resolution (SR-28) comes just weeks after the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee held an off-site meeting at the Somers Point VFW Post 2189 in Atlantic County, where dozens of veterans told stories of having to travel for more than an hour, sometimes taking day-long trips, to get to veterans’ hospitals for care.
“This resolution will send a clear message to the federal government that the entire New Jersey Senate embraces the establishment of a veterans’ facility in the southern part of the state, and recognizes that veterans in our region deserve the same access to health care services as veterans in Wilmington, Philadelphia and North Jersey,” said Senator Van Drew.
An authenticated copy of the resolution, signed by the Senate President and attested by the Secretary of the Senate, will be transmitted to the President and Vice-President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the New Jersey Congressional delegation, and the Secretary of the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Senator Van Drew is also sponsoring legislation (S-1189) to create a task-force to study expanding health care services for veterans in southern New Jersey. Under the bill, the panel would be given a year to develop recommendations for the construction and operation of a veterans health care facility in the region, or for contracting with an existing health care facility to provide services to veterans. The measure unanimously cleared the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee May 21.