As of October 3rd, Island veterans will no longer have to leave the Island to receive health care. According to the Martha’s Vineyard Times, “The Providence VA Medical Center announced on Tuesday that it has awarded a contract to Martha's Vineyard Hospital to provide basic medical services to eligible Island veterans.”
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 and Island veterans with a VA health plan had to be pre-approved by a clinic in Hyannis in order to be treated on the Island. Many vets had to travel as far as Providence for health care.
Since 2008, Woodrow “Woody” Williams has been at the forefront of the fight for a new contract. Williams, who grew up on the Island and now lives in Vineyard Haven, even went as far as putting a 30-page write up of the situation into Senator Scott Brown’s hands himself when Brown visited the Island two summers ago.
"This has been a very long, undeserved situation that the Island veterans and their families were put in for over four years now,” said Williams regarding the news of the long-awaited contract. “Hopefully the VA will give us better medical care, a lot more respect for our service to our country, and also include a clause in the contract that the so-called oversight will never happen again."
According to a VA press release, eligible veterans on the Island will received enhance care without the need for pre-approval, including basic lab work and diagnostic imaging on the Island.