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Congressman Gregory W. Meeks to Ask for Suspension of CARES Process at the St. Albans Veteran Campus

Meeks: If this process does not provide our veterans with the services they

need then we have failed to serve those who so dutifully served us.

JAMAICA, N.Y., June 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, at a press conference Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) of the Sixth Congressional District, announced that he will ask Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B. Peake to suspend the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) and its Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) process currently underway at the St. Albans Primary and Extended Care Center.

"After a recent series of meetings with veterans who expressed their frustration with the current quality of care as well as the VA's proposed reduction of services I have decided that the CARES process as it relates to St. Albans may not realize its goal of better providing for our veterans. At the end of day, if this process does not provide our veterans with the services they need then we have failed to serve those who so dutifully served us. I must ensure that our veterans have confidence in the CARES process and after several years of actively engaging the VA I still do not have enough information to assure them that the process will adequately meet their needs," stated Meeks.

"CARES is the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) national plan for modernizing its aging healthcare facilities, determining the clinical role of its facilities, the consolidation of services and campuses, and the potential for enhanced use leases.

"In a 2004 CARES decision, the VA concluded that the St. Albans Campus was not designed for modern health care delivery, is aging, and is in need of replacement. It began to implement plans to replace the site's infrastructure and the process of leasing the surplus acreage on the site.

"This decision was based on a study that purportedly determined veteran enrollment and utilization for healthcare services over the next 20 years, using enrollment trends and 2003 VA supplied data as a baseline. It determined that the veteran population and need for services would decline in our area. The plans for the new campus were then structured according to the study results.

"We must be certain that our armed service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as our current veterans are adequately counted. The new plans for the St. Albans campus must be designed with an aim toward gaining the confidence of the veterans community that the facility will provide the best and highest quality healthcare and services for their needs," stated Meeks.

SOURCE Office of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks
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