Suozzi slams plan that would cut services to Northport VA – Huntington Now
U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi on Wednesday denounced surprise news that the Veterans Administration was considering major changes to the VA Medical Center in Northport.
The Northport Observer first reported last week that the VA was considering changes such as closing the center’s emergency room and sending other off-campus services to other locations.
It’s the startling nature of the changes, described in a Veterans Administration report, that has most disturbed Suozzi and veterans’ organizations.
“I was completely blindsided,” Suozzi said. “He fell in the middle of our laps. The bottom line is that the first rule of government is to never forget the vet. He said he doesn’t believe the proposals, which include scattering veterans’ care to St. Alban’s, Queens, Connecticut and Commack, were intended to harm their care. “I’m sure there is no malicious intent,” he said. “But it’s such a shock to me, the veterans and the colleagues.”
He said veterans and their families shouldn’t worry and that it would take at least a year of hearings before any changes could be made. “I am for collaboration. I’m not in favor of bureaucrats in Washington making plans and not talking to us first. How you deploy things is an essential part of the community. Do not panic, nothing happens tomorrow. We will fight for the Northport VA.
“I’ve worked really hard to bring in millions to rebuild the ER, and they’re talking about removing ERs,” Suozzi said. “I am very concerned to speak with veterans and organizations, who are surprised by the report. The good news is that it will take a year
before any changes can be made, Suozzi added. “We will make sure veterans are represented.”
Bob Santo, finance manager for American Legion Post 1244 in Greenlawn, said politicians and the VA shouldn’t assume that Suffolk County’s veteran population, still the highest in New State York, will continue to decline as veterans age.
“I think it is extremely premature to plan something like this long term when we know we will need these services again. it doesn’t seem well thought out. I think it’s going to be dead on arrival,” Santo said.