Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Discusses Veteran Health Care During Valley Tour

VA Sec. McDonald, Gov. Abbot and Congressional Delegation visit Harlingen and McAllen to Tour VA Hospital and Meet with Local Veterans

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McALLEN, Texas, September 14, 2015 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments
Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX-15), Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX-34) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald to discuss issues relating to veteran health care in the Rio Grande Valley. Sec. McDonald’s visit follows an invitation from Sen. Cornyn in October 2014.

Sec. McDonald, Sen. Cornyn, Gov. Abbott and the delegation toured the VA facility in Harlingen as well as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s (UTRGV) Smart Hospital and took part in roundtable discussions about UTRGV’s plans for a new medical school. They also met with local veterans to address potential solutions for local VA health care.

In McAllen, Sec. McDonald and the delegation met with local veterans and toured the McAllen Veterans War Memorial and later attended the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon, where Sen. Cornyn and Sec. McDonald participated in an onstage conversation regarding South Texas veterans’ concerns and other issues affecting the region and the nation.

“Veterans care should be a national priority and I am grateful that we were able to bring together a bipartisan coalition to discuss this important issue. I am confident that Secretary McDonald will prioritize improving veteran services in South Texas and the Valley,” Congressman Cuellar said.

“My district has over 38,000 veterans, many of whom live in the Valley. The wait times and service that our veterans receive need to improve greatly. That’s why I have worked for years to increase partnerships between local hospitals and the VA to provide treatment to veterans and why I supported the Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act (COLA) to increase the amounts paid to veterans for disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency and indemnity compensation.

“Back in May, I met with veterans in Starr and Hidalgo Counties to announce a recent expansion in medical services from the VA Choice Program for eligible veterans. I sat down with them to explain that under the expansion of these services, veterans who live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility may use a closer medical facility as long as they receive preauthorization from TriWest. Programs like these make a real difference for those seeking treatment and I will work to bring more efficiency to the VA system. My commitment is to the people of Texas and I will continue to fight for veterans’ health care in Washington.”

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