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Heinrich Visits Veterans Health Clinic In Raton; Tours Site Of New And Improved Facility

Highlights Persistent Effort To Improve Health Services And Quality Care For New Mexico Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Friday, August 30th, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) visited the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Raton where he talked with veterans, VA staff, and local officials about issues affecting patient quality of care. Senator Heinrich also toured the site where construction has just begun on a new state-of-the-art VA clinic, which will be more than double the size of the current clinic, provide additional comprehensive health services, and expand mental and tele-health services. The new facility will also include broad corridors and improved accessibility to veterans with disabilities, and have expanded parking space.

"I'm pleased with the progress being made and commend all the veterans and their families who've worked tirelessly over the past six years to promote expansion of the Raton VA Clinic," said Sen. Heinrich. "We must be unwavering in our commitment to our men and women in uniform who have been promised more than just words of gratitude for their sacrifice when they return home. We owe our veterans the health services and benefits that they have earned. I will not rest until we fix the quality of care and chronic infrastructure problems at all of our New Mexico VA clinics."

In July, Senator Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján met with VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel to call for much needed improvements to the quality of care and chronic infrastructure problems at clinics in northern New Mexico. In their meeting, Dr. Petzel assured the New Mexico lawmakers that the VA was aware of the problems and would do everything in its power to address them, including meeting the January 2014 deadline for opening a new community-based outpatient clinic in Raton. 

Senator Heinrich's visit to Raton comes after he introduced legislation to reduce the veterans disability claims backlog, a bill he sponsored with Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) in June. The bill would require the Veterans Benefits Administration, an agency under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with accurate information for faster filing options. 

The construction for the new veterans community-based outpatient clinic in Raton broke ground in July after a long-delayed process that began more than six years ago. The new VA clinic will be located at 1493 Whittier Street in southern Raton.