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NO. R-84. JOINT RESOLUTION REQUESTING THE GOVERNOR AND THE VERMONT CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION TO SUPPORT THE WHITE RIVER JUNCTION VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL AND REGIONAL OFFICE CENTER (VAMROC), TO STRENGTHEN ITS CAPACITY TO PROVIDE VERMONT'S VETERANS WITH MEDICAL CARE AND BENEFIT SERVICES, TO SERVE AS A PREMIER TEACHING FACILITY, AND TO ENGAGE IN ESSENTIAL RESEARCH TO BENEFIT VETERANS AND THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE IN VERMONT.

(J.R.H. 65)

Offered by: Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.

Whereas, Veterans' Administration (VA) hospitals provide medical care for veterans, including men and women, who have risked their lives to protect the security of our nation, and

Whereas, the mission of the White River Junction VAMROC is to "serve veterans and their families in a proficient, dependable and compassionate manner within an environment that focuses on quality health care, benefits & services, research & education and support of the Department of Defense," and

Whereas, in 1932, White River Junction was chosen by the Veterans' Administration as a site for a regional hospital which was then built on a

176-acre site donated by the Town of Hartford for that purpose, and

Whereas, building 1 was completed in 1938 and successive buildings have been built and the facility and its services have been continuously expanded and improved since that date, and

Whereas, the White River Junction VAMROC has steadfastly provided quality health care and efficient benefit administration to veterans who have served with dedication and courage to protect and defend the United States, and has provided solace and community to veterans and their families, and

Whereas, the White River Junction VAMROC has developed into an outstanding teaching hospital, utilizing cutting edge technology, and is an essential source of learning opportunities for medical students and physicians in training in a northern New England teaching hospital with the potential to encourage rural physician placement, and

Whereas, the White River Junction VAMROC has developed into a premier research facility, conducting studies on Gulf War illnesses, and delivery of cost-effective outpatient services, and

Whereas, the current and possible future funding reductions threaten to harm vital infrastructures that are indispensable for optimal patient care such as the in-patient surgical unit, anesthesia staff, medicine and psychiatry units, and

Whereas, the current financial crisis at the White River Junction VAMROC may be mitigated if new and creative funding options were explored, including: innovative research on the delivery of health services to veterans in rural areas; creating new models of health care delivery that would broaden the patient population and increase reimbursements; a cooperative effort with the state of New Hampshire; and interdisciplinary approaches at varied levels of health care, and

Whereas, the priority of serving veterans must be absolute and irrevocable, and must be the foundation for medical care at this hospital, regardless of any new models of health care delivery, and

Whereas, any eliminated services would be very difficult and costly to replace or restart and would threaten the level of care of other services of both in-patient and out-patient units, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urgently requests that the United States Congress maintain stable and permanent funding of the White River Junction VAMROC, and be it further

Resolved: That the Governor and the Vermont Congressional Delegation are urgently requested to support the White River Junction VAMROC to strengthen its capacity to provide Vermont's veterans with medical care and benefit services, to serve as a premier teaching facility, and to engage in essential research of benefits to veterans and the practice of medicine in Vermont, and be it further

Resolved: That Vermont's Congressional Delegation in conjunction with the Veterans' Administration and veteran service organizations are requested to investigate the broadening of the White River Junction VAMROC patient base, provided that the priority of serving veterans remains absolute and irrevocable, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, Vice President Albert Gore, Veterans' Administration Secretary Togo D. West, Jr., Vermont Governor Howard Dean, New Hampshire Governor Jean Shaheen, New Hampshire Senate President Clesson Blaisdell, New Hampshire House Speaker Donna Sytek, to each member of the Vermont and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations, and to all veterans' organizations registered with the State Veterans' Affairs Office at 118 State Street, Montpelier, VT.