Orlando VA excuse for removing Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy congressional offices from facility makes no sense

Yesterday, members of Florida’s congressional delegation announced that they’re offices were being removed from VA medical facilities after an internal review from the department. These closures include offices for Orlando area Representatives, Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy (story HERE).

This story is important because the presence of elected officials in a VA facility is the only line of accountability that veterans have regarding the level of health care they receive there.

When reporters started asking questions (stories HERE and HERE), a spokesperson for the VA responded with this statement.

“VA’s primary mission is delivering medical care to Veterans, and the physical spaces within our facilities are used for that mission. The Department will use the space previously dedicated to six Members of Congress for the provision of medical care services.”

“Moreover, no law authorizes the Department to dedicate its space for Members of Congress to provide constituent services. Past bills authorizing the Department to do so have not been enacted.”

That answer makes no sense and is insensitive to the concerns of veterans in the Orlando area.

I’ll explain.

The Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona took years to complete and suffered years more in delays. When it was completed it was touted as a state of the art facility that would meet the needs of the surging veterans population in Central Florida.

Now, they’re telling us that they’re removing our elected officials because they need the space. This facility is still new and they’re already running out of room?

The space in questions is in a high traffic area next to a canteen and a bank. What kind of medical services are they planning to provide there that can’t be done anywhere else on this massive campus?

The second part of that statement simply displays an indifference to the concerns of the men and women who served their country. It’s using empty legislative space as an excuse to not do the right thing.

We must continue to urge all of our local elected officials to get involved in this matter. While, this is a federal decision, this facility was built in cooperation with lawmakers on all levels, from both parties.

Our elected voices in our health care process belong in these facilities.

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