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Massachusetts lawmakers advocate to keep Leeds veterans medical center open

Veteran Tom Patrick, right, protests a plan to close the V.A. medical center in Northampton, Mass.
Karen Brown
/
NEPM
Veteran Tom Patrick, right, protests a plan to close the V.A. medical center in Northampton, Mass.

Almost the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation has signed a letter to the federal government, asking that the veterans medical facility in Leeds stay open.

In a report in March, the Department of Veterans Affairs recommended closing the Central Western Massachusetts Veterans Affairs Medical Center (CWM VAMC) as part of a general overhaul.

Congressman Jim McGovern, who spearheaded the letter, said the closing will force many veterans to drive much farther for mental and medical health care. He also said the rationale makes no sense, given that more than $100 million went into recent renovations.

“The [V.A.’s Asset and Infrastructure Review]commission was basically saying that the infrastructure was a problem. Things were aging, there needed to be lots of investment,” McGovern said “Well, the investments that they talk about were invested in, they were addressed.”

McGovern is holding a town hall at the Florence VFW today to hear from veterans about how the closing could affect them - he says he plans to use the information in his advocacy with V.A. officials and, if necessary, President Biden.

Karen is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998. Her features and documentaries have won a number of national awards, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) Award, Third Coast Audio Festival Award, and the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.
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