Senators Announce Military And Veterans’ Affairs Hearing In South Jersey

Panel to Examine Need for Veterans’ Hospital in Region

TRENTON – In recognition of the importance of accessible, comprehensive health care services for veterans across New Jersey, Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jim Beach and Vice Chairman Jeff Van Drew today announced the panel will meet Friday in Somers Point, Atlantic County, to examine the need for a veterans’ hospital in South Jersey.

“As a nation, we owe it to those who served in our Armed Forces to provide access to the broad spectrum of health care services they need,” said Senator Beach (D-Camden). “This hearing will give us an opportunity to hear first-hand from veterans about the challenges they face in getting care, so we can determine the most effective way to address them. As chairman of this committee, I believe there is no issue more important than ensuring that soldiers from every corner of New Jersey have access to the services they were promised once they return home.”

Because there is no federal Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient veterans medical center in southern New Jersey, those needing inpatient care must travel long distances to veterans’ hospitals in northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware. The VA has established small clinics in Ventnor, Cape May and Vineland, however, they are only equipped to perform certain types of outpatient medical services, and are often overwhelmed by the large number of veterans seeking care.

“The men and women who fought for our country deserve to have an accessible health care facility that meets their unique medical needs,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “They should not have to drive an hour and a half to North Jersey, or over state lines to hospitals in Delaware, Pennsylvania or New York, to receive the health benefits they earned while serving our nation. A South Jersey veterans’ hospital is long overdue.”

The committee will consider legislation (S-1189), sponsored by Senator Van Drew, that would create the “New Jersey Veterans’ Hospital Task Force,” a 17-member panel to study and develop recommendations for the construction and operation of a facility in southern New Jersey. Members of the task force would include representatives of state government and the Legislature, as well as veterans with backgrounds in the medical field and a veteran from each of the following counties: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem.

The committee will also consider a measure (SR-28) that would urge Congress and the President to immediately enact legislation establishing a veterans’ hospital in the South Jersey region.

WHO: Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee

WHAT: Hearing to Examine Need for Veterans’ Hospital in South Jersey

WHERE: Somers Point VFW Post 2189, 500 Bethel Road, Somers Point, NJ

WHEN: Friday, May 21, 2010 at 10 AM