In 2004, our region witnessed a bittersweet victory in the ongoing battle over whether to keep the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs Hospital open. While the C.A.R.E.S. Commission recommended the hospital remain open, it also said psychiatric care beds should be moved from Canandaigua to another facility in Western New York. The commission also recommended building a new nursing home in the Canandaigua area.
It was the efforts of many of you who attended hearings, participated in rallies, signed petitions and called your elected officials eventually lead to the facility still having its doors open today. Working together we were successful in keeping this facility open for our Veterans due, in large part, to the tremendous outpouring of public support. I have rarely seen our community come together and fight for something as it did last year for the Canandaigua VA Hospital.
In 2004, nearly 250,000 petitions were presented to the United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs and the C.A.R.E.S. Commission demanding that VA facilities around the United States remain open. Over 100,000 of those petitions were in reference to the Canandaigua VA Hospital.
According to the C.A.R.E.S. Commission, for the most recent time period between Jan. 1, 2005 and June 30, 2005, only 44 comments were received by Veterans, residents and stakeholders about the future of the Canandaigua VA hospital. The panel overseeing the process reports the greatest amount of written and electronic input was received from Veterans and VA or medical center employees.
The time has come once again for us to join together and continue the fight. We need to roll up our sleeves, take a few minutes out of our busy schedules for these Veterans, and fight for their future as they have done defending our freedoms.
It has yet to be decided where a new nursing facility will be located and what will become of the current hospital buildings. The input of residents in this decision is vital to our community and – more importantly – to our veterans’ future.
The local advisory panel, established by the United State Secretary of Veteran Affairs, will have the second meeting of the C.A.R.E.S. process on Tuesday, Aug. 30 in Building 5, the Canandaigua VA auditorium. The meeting is scheduled from 11a.m. to 6 p.m., with time for public comment.
If you have access to the Internet, please visit the C.A.R.E.S. Commission Web site at http://www.va.gov/CARES/ to review what is being proposed for the Canandaigua VA.