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Oregon Veterans gather signatures against Roseburg VA cuts

Veterans associated with the Douglas County Veterans Forum stack more than 12,500 letters signed by veterans urging continued support of the VA Roseburg Hospital. (Chris McKee, KMTR-TV)
Veterans associated with the Douglas County Veterans Forum stack more than 12,500 letters signed by veterans urging continued support of the VA Roseburg Hospital. (Chris McKee, KMTR-TV)

ROSEBURG, Ore. (KMTR) -- More 12,000 signatures from Oregon veterans are headed to Washington D.C., on letters speaking out about the future of the VA Roseburg Hospital.

The Douglas County Veterans Forum displayed the papers today. Five stacks of letters, signed collectively by about 2,500 veterans. The letters were collected at a DCVF booth at the Douglas County Fair from August 3rd through the 7th.

The letters advocate for the restoration of full medical, surgical, psychiatric and long-term nursing home care at the VA Roseburg Health Care System Hospital in Roseburg.

Efforts behind the letter signing come as the VA Roseburg Hospital is under an independent review process analyzing current service levels at the hospital campus. Virginia based consulting firm “Booz Allen Hamilton” is conducting the study, which began in early June 2010.

KMTR NewsSource 16 first reported on the independent review process on June 7th, 2010. To read the fill article, click the following link: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/UPDATE-Roseburg-VA-Hospital-service-review-begins/4fA0MPfhAECu_sTfRx0bgQ.cspx

The review was prompted by a public outcry at a meeting in late March 2010, over several changes to services offered at the hospital campus in Roseburg, and proposed changes to future ones. (Read more about the meeting, click the following link: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Roseburg-VA-Hospital-cuts-debated-moratorium-on/nzaGa_CyL0-x7YVpRNCFrw.cspx)

Many veterans expressed frustration over medical service level changes that happened without their support.

“It also affects the future veterans. If they see this happening to us, how long is it going to be that we're going to have people that are willing to step forward and defend us? And when we lose that, then I'm afraid as a nation, we're done for,” says Jim Little, President of the Douglas County Veterans Forum.

The Douglas County Veterans Forum is now planning to send the VA Roseburg Hospital support letters to the “Booz Allen Hamilton” review group and four other groups. Those include Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki; The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, the U.S. Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, and the U.S. House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs.

“It is an opportunity of a lifetime, one that we really need to take advantage of because that window is going to close on the first of September, and at that point, the review group will make those determinations of what recommendations they should actually make to VISN-20,” says Little.

Little and the Douglas County Veterans Forum are encouraging veterans in the VA Roseburg Health Care System to email or mail the Booz Allen Hamilton review board before September 1st, 2010. The email address is: VARHS-Study@bah.com. The mailing address is: Colleen Sheppard, Booz Allen Hamilton, One Preserve Parkway, Second Floor Rm. 2087, Rockville MD  2085

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