Tester fighting to keep, improve VA service at rural Montana VA clinics

by Miles City Star

U.S. Senator Jon Tester has received personal assurances from top VA officials that there will be no reduction in hours of operation or closures at VA facilities in Glendive, Glasgow, Miles City and Hamilton, according to a press release from Tester’s office.

Following reports that the VA is considering shortening hours of operations at VA facilities in Montana, including clinics in Glendive, Hamilton and Glasgow and the nursing home in Miles City, to save money, Tester pressed top officials to keep those clinics fully operational. Recently, he received assurances from VA that those clinics will not reduce hours of operation or close.

Tester and Dr. Kathy Berger, Director of VA Montana, continue to work together to strengthen the VA’s medical workforce and address staffing vacancies at each of these facilities. Tester recently introduced legislation to address the VA’s chronic workforce shortages.

“Veterans in rural Montana rely on these VA facilities to get the care they need with- out driving hundreds of miles,” said Tester, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’m pleased that the VA walked back their consideration of closing these facilities and to hold them to that, I secured language in the bill that funds the VA to make sure those facilities remain fully operational. I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Berger to make sure the VA has the tools it needs to serve veterans across Montana.”

Tester secured language in the 2018 Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations Bill that prohibits the VA from closing facilities or diminishing services at facilities across the country, like the Glendive VA Clinic and Miles City VA Nursing Home.

During debate, the committee unanimously agreed to Tester’s amendment to prevent the construction of the state home in Butte from slipping further down the VA’s construction priority list. Tester also supported an amendment that included funding for construction of the Butte facility, according to the press release. That amendment was defeated on a party line vote.

Following debate by the Appropriations Committee, Tester helped advance the bipartisan VA funding bill to the Senate floor for consideration.