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Press Release of Senator Cantwell

Victory for Walla Walla Veterans!

Thursday, May 06,2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After months of grueling grassroots work, Walla Walla veterans candeclare victory today with the great news that Walla Walla's VA medical facility will remain open for veterans, despite the CARES Commission's recommendation to close the facility.

“For many veterans in Southeast Washington, this decision means that he or she will not have to face a longer drive to a care center or an even longer wait for an appointment. I am thrilled by the commission's decision and for all the veterans in Washington state who do not deserve to see their health care compromised,” Cantwell said.

Tracking Cantwell's fight on the Congressional side (please note that it couldn't have worked without the input and involvement of Washington's veterans):

7/28/03 - Sends letters to 3000 veterans telling them about the potential closing of American Lake, Vancouver and Walla Walla. Requests personal stories from 3000 veterans and their friends and family to submit to VA. 7/30/03 - Sends letter to Secretary Principi and Everett Alvarez, Chairman of CARES Commission, expressing opposition to closing VA facilities at American Lake, Vancouver and Walla Walla. 7/31/03 - Sends letter to veterans letting them know that American Lake was no longer on the list of closures. 8/04/03 - Posts open letter to Principi on Web site opposing the closures of VA hospital facilities. 9/25/03 - Sends letter to Principi and Alvarez with copies of testimony that was submitted in Vancouver and Walla Walla as well as all of the letters Cantwell received from veterans on this issue and the open letter that was posted on Web site. 9/26/03 - Cantwell submits testimony to CARES Commission at field hearing in Vancouver. 9/29/03 - Sends thank you letter to veterans for sending all of their stories. 9/29/03 - Submits testimony to CARES Commission at field hearing in Walla Walla. 12/03 - Sends letter with Senator Patty Murray to Undersecretary of Health of the VA to express opposition to closure of any VA health care facility in Washington state. 2/26/04 - Sends letter with Senator Murray to VA Secretary Principi asking him to keep the Walla Walla VA facility open. 4/13/04 - Submits testimony to Sen. Murray's field hearing. There are nearly 700,000 veterans in Washington state. Over 200,000 Washington veterans are over the age of 65 and veterans constitute over 30 percent of the state's total elderly population.