Mass congressional delegation shows support for Leeds VA facility

WASHINGTON, DC (WWLP) – Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern is leading several members of the state’s federal lawmakers in asking the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reconsider its recent recommendation to close the center’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center -western Massachusetts to Leeds.

The members sent a letter expressing concerns about the impact of the closure on veterans and their caregivers, as well as community service providers.

The VA published its recommendations for the Assets and Infrastructure Review Board (AIR Board) in March, which suggested closing the Leeds facility due to significant maintenance issues, investment requirements and problems engineering in construction.

The MISSION Act of 2018 required the VA to conduct a national study and issue recommendations for future investments in VA healthcare facilities. The VA conducted a large-scale assessment of its health system over several years. The idea is to create a long-term health care plan that will meet the needs of the growing number of veterans and much-needed improvements to medical facilities. Some of the buildings used are over 80 years old.

For western Massachusetts, the study suggested closing and moving services from the VA campus to Leeds. This idea has sparked concern and outrage among veterans and their supporters who rely on local services.

McGovern is ready to host a informative listening session on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at the Florence VFW Post 8006 to hear from local veterans and their families about the impact of such a closure on them and to share the next steps he is taking to protect Leeds VA Medical Center. He also said he would take concerns he heard directly to VA Secretary McDonough and, if necessary, to President Biden.

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Edward L. Robinett