I wanna know: Why won't VA consider space at former Moss Region - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

I Wanna Know: Why won't VA consider space at former Moss Regional?

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The American Legion Commander for the State of Louisiana has scathing remarks about the Veterans Administration. His complaint centers around one question, why won't the VA take advantage of available space that's being offered to them for a permanent clinic for our vets?

"I wanna know why the Veterans Administration cannot accept free space from a public entity?," said Colonel Jim Jackson, the statewide commander for the American Legion.

It wouldn't necessarily be free space, but Lake Charles Memorial Hospital officials are willing to discuss a possible lease to put a long awaited veterans medical clinic at what was Moss Regional Hospital.

Jackson goes on, "Two floors of Moss Regional are now vacant. There's been talk between the City of Lake Charles and the veterans community about the possibility of 100,000-square-feet of space available to the Veterans Administration. When we talked to the Veterans Administration, they don't even seem to want to discuss, you've got to go through a formal bid process to accept this property. It's ridiculous."

For years now, local veterans have been patiently waiting for a promise to be kept -- the promise of a permanent medical clinic so that those who served in the military won't have to go to Alexandria for medical care.

Last summer, Jackson said the VA refused to accept an offer to allow veterans space indoors to wait to see the doctor in the mobile clinic. 

"But the VA said no, so we had World War II veterans, 80-plus year old gentlemen and ladies sitting in their vehicles in 120-degree temperature in their cars because the Veterans Administration is too stupid to accept the largesse of our people," said Jackson. 

While a mobile clinic here gets rave reviews from veterans, Jackson said it doesn't meet the need. He's outraged at the Congressional Budget Office's new rules he said put 22 clinics in jeopardy.

"Should we take the services away from veterans like that? That deserve it?  We're looking at 400,000 veterans throughout the nation that are not going to receive services because the Veterans Administration can't and will not work with anybody," said Jackson.

The Medical Center Director of the Alexandria VA Health Care System, Martin Trailer, gave us a statement saying, they, "appreciate the interest of the veteran service organizations and will continue to work with them ... to provide service to the veterans ..."

He said, "The VA is awaiting the okay from Congress for a new ... clinic in Lake Charles and will follow federal acquisition process to avoid any further delays."

To hear more of our interview with statewide American Legion Commander Colonel Jim Jackson, look for our web extra.

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