Monday, June 27, 2016

VA Hospitals Facing Congress Chopping Block Fight Back

VA Employees Hold Dozens of Rallies Across the Country to Protest Proposed Closing of Veterans Hospitals

American Federation of Government Employees
AFGE members organize 38 rallies outside VA hospitals this week and next
Jun 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Veterans Affairs employees are holding dozens of rallies outside VA hospitals this week and next to protest plans to privatize veterans' health care and shut down VA hospitals and medical centers.

The Commission on Care, a group that was created by Congress to recommend ways of improving veterans' health care, is close to finalizing a set of recommendations that would significantly weaken the VA's world-class health care system and pave the way for privatization and future closures of VA medical centers, sending veterans to for-profit hospitals for care.

Veterans Affairs employees rally outside the Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, on June 20 to protest the proposed closing of VA medical centers nationwide. The rally was one of nearly 40 nationwide actions being organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA employees across the country who provide health care and other vital services to our military veterans. The Commission on Care is close to finalizing recommendations to Congress that would pave the way for privatization and future closing of VA facilities, sending veterans to for-profit hospitals for care.


Veterans Affairs employees rally outside the Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, on June 20 to protest the proposed closing of VA medical centers nationwide. The rally was one of nearly 40 nationwide actions being organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA employees across the country who provide health care and other vital services to our military veterans.
The rallies are being organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA doctors, nurses, psychologists, benefits specialists, and other workers across the country who provide health care and other vital services to our military veterans.

"Even though the vast majority of veterans oppose privatizing the VA, there are many people who would benefit financially from dismantling the VA and forcing veterans into a network of for-profit hospitals and insurance companies," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr., who was a VA registered nurse for 20 years.

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Here are just a few and now you know why they have to do it. Congress has had since 1946 to make sure veterans were treated properly. They failed and the decades of blame game prove it. 

Alabama
Veterans push for greater support for VA hospitals
Government funding shortage impacts hospitals
WTMV
Chip Scarborough
Jun 24, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Veterans are pleading for action to keep VA hospitals across Alabama and the country from closing due to a shortage of government funding.

Signs greeted drivers as they passed by Tuscaloosa’s VA Hospital on Friday. The signs urged public support for veterans to continue receiving care.

"We made a promise to America's veterans that we would take care of them when they come back, and we think the VA does this better than anybody else," said Tammy Ryan with the American Federation of Government Employees.

Tuscaloosa’s VA Hospital also provides employment to local residents. Organizers of the picket said roughly one-third of the hospital’s 1,000 employees are veterans.
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Alaska
Veterans, VA workers protest against possible hospital closures
KTUU
By Mallory Peebles
Jun 23, 2016

Anchorage, ALASKA (KTUU) - About half a dozen veterans and local Veterans Affairs workers held picket signs outside the Anchorage VA hospital on Thursday to raise awareness about proposed VA reform which calls for closures to some hospitals.

"I want personally to make people aware this is a real possibility," says Air Force veteran and VA audiologist Cari Sherris.

Across the country similar pickets were held Thursday.

Sherris says if the hospitals are closed, veteran healthcare would be privatized. She doesn't believe that will work well for veterans.

"It wouldn't be specific to veterans," says Sherris who believes a focus on PTSD and other combat related illnesses should be at the forefront of veteran care.
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Michigan
Michigan Workers Ready to Fight VA Hospital Closures Public News Service - MI


June 22, 2016 ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan protesters are joining those in more than two dozen states this week to fight efforts to shutter some Veterans Administration hospitals.

The VA Commission on Care soon will release a report suggesting major changes to the VA health system, including privatizing some services.

As a leader in mental-health care, prosthetics and rehabilitation, the VA is best equipped to address the unique health-care needs of veterans, said J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. He said it's a fully integrated health-care system.

"It's a system that deals with homelessness and veterans, works with veterans who end up with issues concerning law enforcement," he said. " VA health care is important, and we cannot privatize it or the men and women that serve this country will certainly be the losers."
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Montana
Protesting privatization: Helena picketers say proposal could close VA hospitals
JAMES DEHAVEN for the Missoulian
Jun 22, 2016

HELENA – Around a dozen picketers gathered in Helena on Monday to protest a proposal they say could spell the closure of VA hospitals around the country.

Union representatives with the American Federation of Government Employees joined veterans and current and former VA employees for the three-hour picket at the heavily trafficked intersection of US Highway 12 and Williams Street – a little more than a mile from VA Montana’s headquarters at Fort Harrison.

AFGE district vice president Gerry Swanke, who heads the union branch that represents thousands of VA workers in Montana and eight other western states, said a report from the congressionally created VA Commission on Care offers a blueprint for the rapid privatization of VA health care services and the potentially widespread shutdown of beleaguered agency-run hospitals.
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North Carolina
Rally to protest privatization of Asheville VA attracts dozens
WLOS
BY KRYSTYNA BIASSOU AND ZACK GREEN
JUNE 22ND 2016

WLOS — ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Dozens of people showed support for the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville on Wednesday.

The rally is in support of keeping the facility open and not privatizing care for veterans.
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UPDATE 

VA employees rally outside Fayetteville VA Medical Center


Wisconsin
Union rallies against VA privatization
Tomah Newspapers
STEVE RUNDIO
Jun 24, 2016

TOMAH — Jake Mason has received treatment for substance abuse from the private sector and the Veterans Administration.

He has no doubt which delivered the more effective care.

“The VA — they take it from the standpoint of veterans,” said Mason, an ex-Marine. “A lot of doctors hear about PTSD, but these are people who know what you’ve gone through.”

Mason was one of 15 patients and employees of the Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center who held a lunchtime “Keep the Promise” rally Thursday at the facility’s entrance.
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