When veterans make a commitment to serve our country, we make a commitment to support them upon their return. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities are crucial to providing this support and ensuring the physical and mental health of our veterans.
The importance of the VA health system is no different in Chillicothe. I know what this facility means to thousands of South Central and Southeast Ohio veterans, and to the entire Chillicothe community. Yet the VA recently recommended a sweeping overhaul of VA medical facilities, which would include closing Chillicothe VA Medical Center.
I’m fighting to prevent that – to keep Chillicothe VA open and stop any closures before they happen. I held roundtable conversations with Southeast Ohio veterans and VA workers, and shared the concerns I heard with Secretary McDonough.
I also pressed VA Secretary McDonough to come to Chillicothe so he could see the Medical Center’s impact in the community for himself. In April, he joined Senator Portman and me at the facility, where we heard directly from veterans and the VA employees who serve them. One of the constant refrains from local veterans was that arriving at the Chillicothe Medical Center is like coming home. The VA employees treat them like family and veterans don’t want to get their medical care elsewhere.
I will continue to hold roundtable discussions to hear about the importance of the medical center in the community, and I’ve launched a website where Ohioans can share their personal stories about how VA’s proposed changes would affect them and their families.
I will use the stories and feedback from these roundtables, the website, and all of the events we’re doing with the community, to raise questions directly to the VA during any hearings in the Senate.
Nothing is more important than honoring our promise to veterans, and we cannot leave Ohio’s veterans behind. We will not stop fighting to save the Chillicothe VA.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.