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Veterans position reinstated full time

Enzi's efforts pay off to benefit veterans

January 16, 2008

Washington, D.C. - After months of pressuring the Veterans Benefits Administration to get adequate attention for Wyoming veterans by restoring a full time Veterans Benefits Representative position in Sheridan, good news was released today when the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Hospital was informed that the full time position would be restored.

“A retirement should never have meant the dissolution of this important position which helps veterans across the state and throughout the region. Veterans need a full time ‘go to’ person for all of their benefit questions and needs,” said Enzi. “I am pleased the input from veterans groups, delegation offices and the general public was heard and a change is being made.”

On Oct. 23 Enzi sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs seeking the reinstatement of the full time position.


Oct. 23, 2007

Gordon Mansfield

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420

Dear Mr. Mansfield:

I write to share the concerns of Wyoming veterans about the lack of a Veterans Benefits Representative position at the Sheridan, Wyoming Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC).

 

My staff was informed by Ms. Janice Jacobs, Director of the Denver Regional Office, that the decision has been made to permanently eliminate this position. This decision is unacceptable.

 

The veterans of Wyoming deserve better representation by the Veterans Benefits Administration. I understand that regional management must make staffing and funding decisions on a daily basis. I do not understand, however, how a state the size of Wyoming , with only two VA Medical Centers, can adequately be served by benefits officers in only one location.

 

My constituents, our nation’s veterans, seek assistance with their benefits when they need help, and they deserve prompt attention from the VA.  While a phone line has been provided in Sheridan for veterans to speak with a VA representative, many veterans, especially older veterans, need someone to talk to face-to-face. By eliminating this option the VA is doing a disservice to the veterans of our state.

 

Additionally, the Sheridan VAMC is the veterans psychiatric hospital for the region. Veterans with psychiatric problems may not be physically or mentally able to get the assistance they need through the internet or a phone line. At a time when Congress and the Administration are making efforts to diminish the stigma for veterans seeking psychiatric help, not having a Veterans Benefits Representative at the regional psychiatric center sends the wrong message.

 

I understand the commanders of Wyoming ’s three major veterans service organizations have written to you on this same topic. I hope you will consider their request and mine and help ensure that Wyoming ’s veterans are receiving the proper attention from the Veterans Benefits Administration.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. I look forward to hearing from you and wish you the best during your service as Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

 

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

 

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