WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Veterans across the Mountain State are still very concerned about losing their healthcare after recent recommendations from the VA.

Those recommendations would really impact the VA facilities across West Virginia. The state’s lawmakers share the same worries. 
 
Senator Joe Manchin hosted a statewide call with veterans organizations on Wednesday to talk about new legislation that would eliminate the AIR Commission. 

Senator Manchin joined with West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico in reintroducing the Elimination of the VA Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission. That commission is responsible for finding VA locations that should be closed or have their services reduced.

I took the bill down to the floor yesterday. I know we’re going to get it done and eliminate the AIR commission because I know when we’re committed to get something done that means so much to all of us, we make it happen.

Senator Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia

It wasn’t well throughout out. They didn’t talk to the stakeholders, in my opinion. They didn’t talk to medical facilities outside of the VA either, which is another source of concern. So these proposed cuts, we’re going to fight our hardest and I think we have a lot of good folks on our side. We’re going to fight our hardest to make sure these proposed cuts do not go through.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia

Senator Manchin said that while he is against the AIR commission, he does support improving VA healthcare for veterans. He called the current proposed cuts “drastic and harmful”.

While listening events were held all over West Virginia, here in the Ohio Valley, Helping Heroes and the Northern Panhandle Veterans Council hosted an event to listen to and participate in that town hall. 

They were also able to bring their concerns directly to Senator Manchin for answers. 

We’re concerned about veterans losing access to the things that they’re guaranteed, VA care, VA hospitals and emergency rooms. We can’t just shift those folks to private hospitals cause they’re shorthanded as well.

Adam Truex, Treasurer, Northern Panhandle Veterans Council

It’s not ready to have 72,000 veterans that are receiving VA healthcare in the state right now, they are not ready to take in that number.

Ted Diaz, Cabinet Secretary, West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance

Questions were raised about transportation to other hospitals if VA facilities close. 

Helping Heroes representatives also worried that veterans won’t get the mental health or other services they need because VA emergency rooms are often the first place they go for treatment. 

Veterans in attendance thanked Senators Manchin and Captio for their attention to this issue and said meetings like this make them feel their concerns are being heard.

A lot of times folks don’t talk about what’s going on in the veterans community with issues, so we’re trying to bring them in and make them aware of these problems.

Adam Truex, Treasurer, Northern Panhandle Veterans Council

Veterans who did not wish to ask their question during the townhall were able to submit them in the chat to Senator Manchin’s office and representatives said they would receive answers soon.