WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez today sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs asking for answers on a proposed VA health center in Ocean County and the current barriers to care faced by New Jersey Veterans.
The letter, which was also signed by Congressman Andy Kim and Chris Smith, outlines the critical demand for a new and expanded Community Based Outpatient Clinic, or CBOC, in Ocean County. The delegation cites “numerous barriers to care” for local veterans, including, “unacceptably long wait times, too few providers, even fewer options for transportation, difficulty finding parking nearby and a lack of automatic doors at each entrance – preventing wheelchair bound or disabled veterans from opening the door to the physical therapy clinic without assistance.”
The delegation cites multiple meetings with VA officials in which these issues have been raised on behalf of local veterans and outlines three questions focused on construction timeline of a new facility, number of health care providers and transportation options for the VA to answer.
The letter provides a deadline of December 8th for the VA to provide answers to the questions, which aim to, “deliver on the promise of better, more timely service for our veterans and ensure our veteran community is properly honored through the delivery of VA excellence.”
Background on Booker’s work in the Senate to support service members and veterans:
Booker has been steadfast in his commitment to supporting New Jersey’s service-members, veterans, and their families. When he was first elected to the U.S. Senate, his very first meeting was with New Jersey veterans. Last month, he led members of New Jersey’s delegation in urging the Air Force to approve the construction of an overpass over County Road 539, which splits Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) and puts at risk the safety and welfare of military personnel in New Jersey. And earlier this summer, he authored a bipartisan bill to expand eligibility for all military spouses in a workforce development program and a bipartisan, bicameral resolution to recognize the unique achievements and contributions of female veterans by designating a Women Veterans Appreciation Day. He also is the author of legislation to close critical gaps in VA education benefits by expanding coverage for remedial courses and allowing veterans to transfer benefits to future dependents, which was informed by conversations he had with student veterans at Rutgers University.
Booker has also been an outspoken advocate for legislation to extend coverage to 200,000 previously uncovered Vietnam Navy Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. A bill he cosponsored to extend this coverage was signed into law earlier this year.
He was also instrumental, along with other members of the New Jersey delegation, in helping bring a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) to Sussex County in 2017, after hearing from veterans living in Sussex, Warren, and Western Morriscounties who had to travel to out-of-state VA facilities to get quality care.
In 2014, Booker’s bipartisan bill to guarantee continued rehabilitative services for veterans with traumatic brain injuries was signed into law as part of a comprehensive VA accountability bill, the Veterans Choice Act.