Tester Statement on VA’s Recommendations to the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission

Independent Commission to study veterans’ facilities nationwide in years-long process

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today released a statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released its recommendations for the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission:

“Ensuring Montana and the nation’s veterans and their families have access to their earned care is my top priority, which is why I’ve worked hard over the years to expand VA facilities and services across the state. As I’ve said in the past, any effort to kneecap our veterans’ health care is a non-starter for me. As the Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will fight tooth and nail against any proposals that blindly look to reduce access to VA care or put our veterans at a disadvantage.”

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the VA MISSION Act into law. Among its many provisions, the law instructed VA to review all health care facilities in its nationwide network. It also required VA to make recommendations for changes to the AIR Commission, a presidentially-appointed commission that is not yet established. For Montana, proposals include recommendations to close a VA nursing home in Miles City and two VA clinics, one in Glasgow and one in Plentywood. The Department is also proposing changes to VA services offered in Helena and Billings.

AIR Commission recommendations are the first step in a multi-year process—they can include remodeling, building new facilities, moving, closing facilities and changing services offered. The President recently nominated individuals for the AIR Commission, all of whom will require Senate confirmation. Under the law, all VA proposals are required to be reviewed by the Commission, the President, and Congress.

Tester has been a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 2007. For years, he has been a champion for veterans in the Senate, working with various Veterans Service Organizations to successfully expand benefits and care for those exposed to Agent Orange, provide lifesaving mental health care, support women veterans, expand VA caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras, and more.

He has also led the way in expanding veterans’ access to care in Montana—securing resources to build new and modernized facilities across the state. Through years of focused work with multiple Administrations of both parties, and working across the aisle in Washington and with communities across Montana, Tester’s efforts resulted in new facilities opening in several areas including Fort Harrison in Helena, Missoula, Miles City, Bozeman, Great Falls, Billings, Havre, Cut Bank, Lewiston, and Butte. Additional VA projects Tester fought for are underway in other parts of the state.

Montana veterans, VA employees, and community members wishing to contact Senator Tester’s office regarding the AIR Commission process may submit a formal message HERE.