The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs announced last week that the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission had recommended closing the VA Medical Center in Chillicothe. VA staff had been informed earlier this month, however, the news was made public on Monday.
According to the 73-page report released by the department, it is projected that demand on the facility will continue to decline in the coming years, in total by 8.5% by 2029. The federal government is recommending that a new facility should be built in Pickaway County, around a more populated area, including the larger enrollee population in Columbus and Chillicothe is not “optimally located”.
A public affairs officer at the Chillicothe VA has offered for community members to contact her office with questions about the possible closure. Ruby can be reached at 740-772-7080. Ruby also encouraged local veterans and members of the community to contact their US Representatives and US Senators to make their voice be heard.
Eric Newman, the Commander at the Seaman American Legion addressed the issue in a social media post on Friday. “While I understand the need for change, the proposed changes will create issues for our local veterans,” said Newman. “I know many veterans who travel to Chillicothe for treatment and that facility has recently undergone huge upgrades and new construction. While the VA Medical Center is almost as close for most Adams County residents, the drive to Chillicothe is easier due to the major traffic issues often encountered when drive to the Cincinnati Medical Center.”
“The proposal is slated for a vote in Congress by January 2023. If approved, the implementation timeline could be anywhere between one and 20 years, so changes will not happen immediately,” said Newman. “This would be a perfect time to contact your Congress members to voice any concerns you have.”
Since opening in 1924, the Chillicothe VA has made vast and wide-reaching contributions as part of VHA’s rich 75-year history to improve the health of Veterans and the entire nation by providing services and technologies that have changed the way health care providers across the country practice medicine.
Some of the Chillicothe VA’s most notable local contributions include:
- The Chillicothe VA was the first VA Medical Center to use green technology as a primary energy source for fueling facility power with the construction of a Biomass Energy Plant in 2011.
- 2,040 health care providers have received medical training at this facility since 2013, including 36 graduates of the Professional Psychology Internship program. The skills and knowledge these health care providers learn from VHA are implemented in hospitals and clinics across the country.
- VHA leads the nation in telehealth services with over 6,900 Veterans using these services at the Chillicothe VA and increasing telehealth by 51% during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chillicothe VA leads the region with 80% of the providers trained in telehealth services.