Letter: Shea-Porter led the way
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter’s vision and many years of advocacy for New Hampshire’s veterans have finally borne fruit.
On July 30, the House passed, by an overwhelming margin, a bipartisan veterans bill that expands access to health care for veterans.
Eligible veterans can receive care from eligible private providers and military health care facilities if they’re more than 40 miles from the closest VA facility and have waited too long.
This is great news, especially for rural veterans. As it is, 41 percent of vets reside in rural areas, and they use VA facilities less due in part to longer driving distances to VA medical facilities.
Back in 2007, Shea-Porter led the way and recognized the great need for expanded access in New Hampshire, with its large population of rural veterans, to have a full-service VA hospital once more, or failing that, access to equivalent care.
She pressed the VA with letters and in meetings and finally, in July 2008, before either of our current senators took office, authored and introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act, which would mandate that veterans get greater access to full-service medical care, which is the intent of the new veterans bill.
Shea-Porter reintroduced her bill at the beginning of the 111th Congress on Jan 9, 2009, and then newly elected Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced the companion bill a week later, on Jan. 14.
I thank Shea-Porter for her leadership on this issue, and our Senate delegation for supporting her initiative in the Senate.