CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Governor Jim Justice is joining the chorus of people speaking out against proposed cuts at Veterans hospitals. But can he do anything to stop it? These decisions are made at the federal level, but the governor wants to make sure West Virginia’s voice is heard.
The governor signed a bill Tuesday morning to change the makeup of his Veterans Affairs Council. That group keeps a close watch on veterans issues in the Mountain State.
Right now the biggest concern is a proposal to greatly scale back services at the Veterans Hospitals in Huntington, Clarksburg and Beckley. Emergency rooms would close and many in-patient services would end despite West Virginia has among the highest rates of military participation in the nation.
“As far as people, you know, in our armed services, our veterans, the most of any state per capita. And so to turn to us and say, we’re going to look at cutting things and cutting services in West Virginia? No, No. That is not going to work,” said Justice.
Others are sharing his concerns.
“If this is what is going to happen to the VA, if we allow them to get a bite of the apple? Are they going to keep taking more and more and more?” said John Powell, a U.S. Navy Veteran from West Virginia.
“Our veterans need to be served quickly. They get good health care in our VA. They like our VAs. So we’re going to fight this,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.
There are concerns that reducing services at VA hospitals will add to the already strained patient load at more than a dozen VA outpatient clinics across the state. The governor has been speaking with the state’s Congressional delegation, trying to put a stop to the proposed cuts from Washington, DC.