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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Case You Missed It: During a U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing yesterday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) addressed the need to improve space and staffing support for women veterans, and veterans with spinal cord injuries and mental health needs, at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). During the hearing, entitled “A System to Better Serve America’s Veterans: Investing in VA’s Infrastructure,” Brown questioned expert witnesses on how to best utilize the American Jobs Plan funding to better address staffing needs at VA.
Brown questioned Executive Director of the Office of Asset Enterprise Management at VA, Brett Simms, specifically on the importance of the American Jobs Plan and the $3 billion to address immediate infrastructure needs within VA health care facilities, such as upgrades to support the growing number of women veterans.
More from Brown’s hearing exchange is included below and video is available HERE:
Brown: Mr. Simms, in your testimony, you stress the importance of the American Jobs Plan and the $3 billion to address immediate infrastructure needs within VA health care facilities, such as upgrades to support the growing number of women veterans. How would VA use the American Jobs Plan funding to improve care for female veterans and other specialties like spinal cord injuries or mental health?
Simms: Thank you, Senator, for that question. There would be focused investments, looking at women’s health for example. We would be looking to both increase access as well as improve existing facilities for things like privacy, separate entrances, and things like that, to address some of the concerns of women veterans being able to access services that exist today. We would also include capacity expansion to ensure that we have the right clinics and the size of those clinics to be able to support the women veterans. So that’s one piece of that. More broadly, I think a lot of the challenges we faced – and I think Ms. Hassan – of facilities where there are utility issues that force closures, or denial of service. A large portion of that immediate investment would be looking at those core infrastructure utility system needs to ensure that we’re operating efficiently and effectively in the existing medical centers so those types of care can be delivered, whether it be specialty, primary care, or in patient or outpatient.