Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

New VA Facility a Turning Point, But More Improvements Needed

December 18, 2015
Representative Roby's Weekly Column

You may have seen the news that the Central Alabama VA has now opened a new 150,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic on Chantilly Parkway, in Eastern Montgomery. Our veterans deserve a world-class facility like this one, and I was proud to join my colleague Rep. Mike Rogers, community leaders and Veterans Affairs officials to cut the ribbon on this impressive new facility.

The VA’s new Chantilly clinic is intended to increase access to care for veterans who depend on the VA for medical and psychological services.  The deep and complex problems that have plagued the VA nationwide, and particularly in this area, are well-documented. When I worked with whistleblowers and the press to expose major counts of malfeasance, mismanagement and cover-up within the Central Alabama VA, we knew extensive changes would have to be made and that the road to success would be a long one. But, I am encouraged by recent progress. Badly needed staff has been hired to fill some of the gaps that have existed for years. Major headway has been made to reduce the backlog of patients waiting for appointments. All this means more veteran patients are receiving the care they need in a timely fashion, and that’s what it is all about.

Of course, a new building will not fix all the problems with patient access by itself. As nice as it is, this new facility doesn’t make the journey for care any shorter for veterans living in Greenville, Andalusia, Troy or other areas relatively far from VA hospitals in Montgomery and Tuskegee. That’s why I’m working to build a network of local hospitals, clinics and other providers that can allow many veterans to access care right in their hometown.

Very soon, I will be bringing together local, regional and national VA leaders to sit down with hospital CEOs from around Alabama so we can work out an agreement to develop this community veterans health network. When veterans are able to get treated by local providers, it means they aren’t forced to drive long distances to receive care. It also means the demand at existing VA facilities is lessened so they can tend to the patients already on their rolls. 

I believe this commonsense, hybrid approach is the future of veterans health care, and I’m optimistic we can build a community veterans health network here in Alabama that can serve as a model for the nation. 

It is refreshing to be able to share some positive news about our work to improve the VA. My staff and I will remain vigilant in making sure our veterans are receiving the care they need because that’s our job. I hope the opening of the new VA facility marks a turning point in our mission to improve VA services and make sure no veteran gets left behind.