Chris Schulz Published

VA Recommends Reducing W.Va. Services


West Virginia leaders are concerned plans to modernize the Veterans Affairs medical system will significantly reduce treatment options in the state.

In March, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) presented recommendations to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to modernize services and address aging buildings within the VA health care system over the next decade.

Within those recommendations, three VA Medical Centers in West Virginia – The Beckley VA Medical Center, the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, and the Hershel “Woody” Williams VAMC in Huntington – would see a reduction in services.

In a press release Thursday, Ted Diaz, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance said, “I do not believe veterans should have to choose between living in communities they love and having reasonable access to health care.”

Diaz and his staff have called on West Virginia’s federal elected leaders in D.C. to oppose the recommendations.

Clarksburg and Huntington would have their emergency departments converted to urgent care centers. All three locations would no longer offer in-patient medical and surgical services. The VA says veterans can turn to other medical providers in their area for these services.

The VA will instead focus on community living centers for an aging regional veteran population.

The recommendations include building a new VAMC in Beckley to replace the current facility that dates to 1950, but upon reopening its focus would be on out-patient treatment.

The VA cited projected decreases in enrolled veterans through 2029 of between 12.5 percent and 15 percent in all three of the medical centers’ markets as justification for these recommendations.