Health Care for Island Veterans Gets One Step Closer to Reality
The Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. signed off on a contract to bring health care to Island veterans on Monday
Nearly a year ago, a team from the American Legion headquarters in Washington, D.C., made a trip to the Island’s American Legion Post #257 to hold a roundtable discussion about Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare. At that meeting, over 30 Island veterans attended and voiced their concern that there has been no locally provided VA healthcare on the Island since 2004.
According to a press release from Congressman William Keating’s office on Monday, the VA in DC has finally signed that contract along with contracts for x-ray and laboratory work so that veterans will be able receive covered services without having to leave the Island.
The contract between the VA and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital lapsed in 2004, and went unnoticed until 2008 when vets began receiving bills from collection agencies. A new contract has remained in the works ever since. Currently, Island veterans with a VA health plan must be pre-approved by a clinic in Hyannis in order to be treated on the Island. Many Island veterans have to travel as far as the Providence VA Medical Center (VAMC) for healthcare services.
Keating sited his father’s long career as a veteran’s service agent and said, “I know how important it is to get veterans the care they need when they need it. Finalizing this contract is well overdue and I am happy that it has moved out of Washington and is closer than ever to being completed.”
The contract will now go to the VAMC and then to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for final approvals.