Rooney Urges VA, Keep Rural Clinics Open
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin demanding that he reject a proposal to close two rural veterans clinics in Moore Haven and Clewiston, Florida. Both facilities are located in rural counties designated by the Department of Health and Human Services as “areas of critical need” given the shortage of both primary and mental health care providers.
According to the 2017 Census Bureau report titled “Veterans in Rural America,” rural veterans on average tend to be older and those who are younger in rural areas tend to have higher disability ratings. Should these facilities close, the VA would be forcing veterans living in these counties to either travel over 40 miles to continue receiving VA health care or shift the responsibility to care for these veterans onto communities that are already facing critical health care provider shortages.
“The fact that the VA is considering closing these facilities is completely unacceptable,” Rooney said. “Our men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line have a hard enough time receiving care as it is without the VA closing the clinics that are closest to their homes. In closing these facilities, the VA is directly marginalizing the veterans choosing to make a home in Florida’s heartland. We promised rural veterans across the country the benefits and care they deserve, and if the VA proceeds and shuts down these facilities, they’ll be sending a signal to the veterans that I represent that they don’t justify the minimal cost it takes to provide them with care.”
Rooney is an Army veteran and a member of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. He proudly serves one of the largest veteran populations in the country, with more than 70,000 veterans living in Florida’s 17th district. Here you can see the full text of the letter that Rooney sent to Secretary Shulkin.