Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, sent a letter today to retired U.S. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, President-elect Obama’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, asking him to revisit his predecessors’ decisions to close the VA hospital facility in Livermore.
“The decision was made in spite of the fact that the Livermore VA serves more than 100,000 local veterans and is situated less than fifteen miles from Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (Camp Parks),” McNerney wrote. “Camp Parks serves the training needs of more than 20,000 Army Reserve and California National Guard soldiers. The National Guard also has pending plans to expand its presence at Camp Parks. Many of these soldiers and their families have permanently settled in the region and find the Livermore campus to be a convenient and necessary resource upon their return to civilian life. Moreover, in FY2006, the Livermore VAMC served 11,433 inpatients and outpatients, had 55,973 outpatient encounters, 470 nursing home admissions, and racked up 35,831 bed days of care.”
McNerney encouraged Shinseki to consider using Livermore as a site for expanded Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and major-depression treatment, given the “peaceful, serene setting”. House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Bob Filner, D-San Diego, also favors keeping Livermore open, he noted.
“The process of phasing out the Livermore facility has ground to a standstill and virtually no action has been taken since Secretary Jim Nicholson left office,” McNerney wrote. “I have no doubt that you will confront this issue head on and will work tirelessly on behalf of our nation’s veterans. Once you are settled in your new post I would very much like to arrange a meeting to discuss the Livermore facility.”