Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic) that would create a task force to study and develop recommendations for expanding veterans’ health care services in southern New Jersey received final approval in the Senate, and now heads to the desk of Governor Christie.
Earlier this year, Van Drew hosted a hearing on the bill (S-1189) at the Somers Point VFW Post 2189 in Atlantic County, where dozens of veterans told stories of having to travel for more than an hour, sometimes taking day-long trips, to get to veterans hospitals for care.
“Veterans in our region should not be forced to travel hours to North Jersey or across state lines to Delaware or Pennsylvania to get basic health care,” said Senator Van Drew. “They deserve reasonable access to health care services, just as much as veterans in Wilmington, Philadelphia and North Jersey.”
There is no federal Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient veterans’ medical center in southern New Jersey. While the VA has established small clinics in Ventnor, Cape May and Vineland, they are only equipped to perform certain types of outpatient medical services, and often are overwhelmed by the large number of veterans seeking care. As a result, veterans are often forced to travel long distances for their health care needs.
The bill passed the Assembly in November by a vote of 79-0. It cleared the Senate by a vote of 37-0. It now heads to the Governor.