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ICYMI: Senators Hassan, Shaheen Urge VA to Prioritize Improvements to Manchester VA Medical Center & Full-Service VA Hospital in NH

MANCHESTER -- In case you missed it, last week Senators Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen called on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough to prioritize infrastructure improvements to the Manchester VA Medical Center and ultimately build a full-service hospital in New Hampshire.

Their push comes after multiple incidents of infrastructure-related problems at the Manchester VAMC, including water and heating concerns during the recent cold snap. In addition to calling for immediate infrastructure improvements at the Manchester VAMC, the Senators urged the VA to construct a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire.

Senator Hassan is leading efforts to strengthen care for veterans in New Hampshire. Last year, she worked with a bipartisan group of her colleagues to end the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission process that threatened New Hampshire veterans’ care by recommending that the VA close clinics in Littleton and Conway, as well as move outpatient surgical care from the Manchester VA Medical Center to community providers. Senator Hassan also helped develop and pass into law the PACT Act, which fundamentally reforms and improves how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the VA.

The Union Leader covered the Senators’ letter. See here or below for highlights:

Union Leader: N.H. senators push for quicker fixes to Manchester VA

By Kevin Landrigan

The state’s two U.S. senators are demanding the Biden administration expedite improvements to the Manchester VA Medical Center after chronic “infrastructure failures,” including the temporary evacuation of patients during the arctic cold snap earlier this month.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., used a strongly worded letter to Secretary of Veteran Affairs Denis McDonough to renew their call to replace this 73-year-old complex with a “full service hospital.”

Hassan addressed the topic with McDonough during a “senators-only meeting” on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

“The VA facility in Manchester continues to suffer from infrastructure-related problems that have significantly reduced its capacity to treat veterans,” the senators wrote McDonough.

“While we commend the staff at the facility for continuing to provide the best possible care to veterans, we urge you to prioritize improvements to this facility and a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire.”

[…] “Aging infrastructure can reduce veterans’ access to high quality health care, negatively affect the morale and effectiveness of VA’s health care providers, and discourage some eligible veterans from seeking VA care,” the senators wrote.

[…] In the letter, the senators noted Dr. Shareef Elnahal, the federal undersecretary of veterans affairs for health, said a nationwide infrastructure plan he must present to Congress by this June would focus more on new construction than upkeep of existing buildings.

“It has long been our position that one of those needed construction projects should be a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire,” they wrote.