January 14, 2009

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) today introduced bipartisan legislation to increase veterans’ access to health care, the first piece of legislation Shaheen has introduced as a United States Senator.  The legislation, the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that every state has a full-service veterans’ hospital, or that comparable services are provided by contracting with in-state hospitals.  New Hampshire is currently one of only three states without a full-service veterans’ hospital. 


 “I am proud to introduce my first piece of legislation today to ensure that New Hampshire veterans have access to the quality health care they deserve," said Senator Shaheen. "Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has led this fight in the House, and I’m honored to stand with her, Senator Gregg and Congressman Hodes in our bipartisan commitment to honor New Hampshire veterans. New Hampshire is the only state that does not offer either a full-service VA hospital or access to in-state medical services comparable to a full-service VA for all our veterans. I’m glad that the entire New Hampshire delegation stands united in attempting to correct this injustice.”


Senator Gregg stated, “In recent years, considerable strides have been made to expand health care options for New Hampshire veterans, including the addition of radiological services at the Manchester VA Medical Center.  While we’ve made progress and reduced the number of veterans traveling long distances to receive care, more can be done.  I am pleased to join Senator Shaheen in introducing this important bipartisan legislation.  Together, we will work to make sure that veterans who have selflessly and courageously served our country receive the highest quality of health care available.  It is especially important that they have access to these critical services close to home.  This legislation will help to ensure that veterans in New Hampshire, and throughout our country, receive the health care they have earned and deserve.”


Mary Morin, Director of New Hampshire State Veterans Council, stated, “The substantial energies toward the goal of bringing a full-service VA hospital to New Hampshire have been shared by the state's veterans, veterans organizations, and state officials alike. These joint efforts have always been without partisanship and with a wholehearted desire to provide New Hampshire veterans with nothing less than they deserve; locally accessible, high quality healthcare. We applaud the partnership of Senators Gregg and Shaheen in the introduction of legislation to bring the state one step closer to that goal.”


Dr. Griffin T. Dalianis, Chairman of the State Veterans Advisory Committee, stated, “It comes as no surprise to me that Senator Gregg is co-sponsoring the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009 with Senator Shaheen. Senator Gregg has brought forward and supported many good pieces of veterans related legislation in the past and I am certain he will continue to be a tireless veterans advocate.  During her time as Governor, Senator Shaheen was a great supporter of veterans issues and worked well with the various state veterans support organizations. I am pleased to see our senators working together on this important issue and am confident that New Hampshire’s veterans will continue to see their  health care options  improve in the future.”


Commander Dave Kenney, President of the Reserve Officers Association of New Hampshire, “This is an important initiative to bring a larger array of health care services to Manchester and alleviate the unnecessary travel to out of state facilities, particularly for the more senior veterans and those who are not ambulatory. With New Hampshire ranking near the top of the nation for per capita veteran population, a full service Veteran's Hospital is an imperative part of health services needed by New Hampshire veterans. This bipartisan effort by Senator Gregg and Senator Shaheen is an important and noble step toward bringing the issue of veteran's health care above the din of politics, and secure the nation's commitment to providing care for those who stood to defend it.” 


Al Baldasaro, New Hampshire State Representative from Londonderry, stated, “I want to congratulate Senators Gregg and Shaheen for bringing this important issue before the Senate. I applaud their leadership in providing veterans additional in-state health care options and continued efforts toward providing the care that the veterans of New Hampshire deserve.”

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Alex Reese