The Trump administration’s decision to ‘evict’ 6 members of Congress from VA hospitals in Florida left those representatives shaking their heads and wondering how the president close down these offices.
Members of Congress contend that these offices made it easier for veterans to voice any concerns.
Doors are expected to close by the end of the year, but why?
According to two veterans, who asked that we keep their identity secret, on several occasions that they visited the VA Medical Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, some of the congressional offices were closed.
One of the veterans said that on three separate occasions, and at different times during the day, the offices of Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings were closed.
“Remember you must go to the VA with a veteran who needs help from Ted's district to attempt to address an issue. Steve will find out what day his office is supposed to be at the VA. Usually no one is there.”-Navy Veteran in Palm Beach
He added that he knocked on the closed door each time but no one answered.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D), who said she was “taken by surprise” with the decision, told reporters that “Veterans would just walk in” and “see that we were there” and just “drop by to share concerns.”
Veterans can drop by the congressional offices but need to do so within the limited posted office hours.
Reps. Ted Deutch (D), Brian Mast (R), and Alcee Hastings (D) put out a joint statement expressing their deep disappointment with the office closings.
“We are deeply disappointed to learn that the VA plans to end the shared-space agreement at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, but we will explore all options to keep the office open. After first opening in January 2018, this first-of-its-kind agreement enabled the entire Palm Beach Congressional Delegation to hold office hours at the VAMC and improve our veteran constituents’ access to our staff. Having caseworkers on hand to provide guidance and assistance on an array of issues has made the VAMC a more convenient place for our veterans to take advantage of the benefits and assistance they have earned. Although there are thousands of veterans in our region who will be hurt by this decision, we remain committed to serving our veterans and their families to the best of our ability and with the respect and honor they deserve.”
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs release this statement:
VA’s primary mission is delivering medical care for veterans. The Department will use the space previously dedicated to six Members of Congress for the provision of medical care services…Moreover, no law authorizes the Department to dedicate it’s space for Members of Congress to provide constituent services.
Rep. Donna Shalala (D) (pictured)will also have her office closed.