Udall, Heinrich, Pearce Announce Alamogordo Veterans May Access Specialized Care at El Paso VA Medical Center
WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) a announced the Department of Veterans Affairs will make specialized medical care more accessible for veterans in Alamogordo by giving them the option to seek care either at the El Paso VA Medical Center or the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque for advanced care. Until now, veterans in Alamogordo needing specialized care have been referred to the Albuquerque VA hospital, which is three and a half hours away, rather than the El Paso VA Medical Center, which is just an hour and a half drive.
Udall, Heinrich, and Pearce urged VA Secretary Shulkin to make the administrative changes after hearing from a number of veterans who said they were delaying or going without specialized care because the drive to Albuquerque was too difficult. Several members of the N.M. legislature followed up with another letter this month supporting the delegation’s request. This week, Shulkin responded that the VA would work to honor the veterans’ preferences.
"This is welcome news that will give veterans in Alamogordo the option to receive care much closer to home. Our veterans risk their lives to defend our freedom, and they deserve the absolute best care we can provide when they return home, but for many of our veterans in Alamogordo, their specialized care was just too far away," Udall said. "This is a small change that will provide big relief for our veteran community in Alamogordo. We made a solemn promise to our veterans to ensure they get the best care possible, and I will continue working with the VA to ensure that New Mexico's veterans are getting the care and benefits they have earned."
“This is welcome news that will ensure veterans in southern New Mexico have the flexibility and choice they need to access health care closer to home instead of having to drive all the way to the VA in Albuquerque,” said Heinrich. “Our ability to maintain the strongest and most dedicated military in the world depends on our nation's ability to keep its promises to provide our veterans the best care, benefits, and opportunities they have earned. I will continue fighting to increase timely access to health care services for our veterans in each and every New Mexico community.”
“Veterans in rural communities throughout New Mexico face many unique challenges to receiving the quality and timely care they deserve. Often, they travel an entire day just to learn their appointments were either cancelled or rescheduled," said Pearce. "I made a commitment to honor our veterans in all aspects of their service and care. I was pleased to join my colleagues in the Senate to ensure veterans across New Mexico have access to VA Medical Centers that are at a more convenient location. I appreciate the VA working with us in Congress to break down the barriers that impede rural veterans from receiving the care they need after stepping up to serve our nation.”
The Albuquerque VA Medical Center will assign a primary point of contact to work alongside a similar contact at the El Paso VA Medical Center to coordinate care referrals. Additionally, the Albuquerque VA Medical Center will provide training to the Alamogordo VA clinic to ensure local staff and veterans are aware of the inter-facility specialty care referrals and care coordination process between Albuquerque and El Paso with the goal of meeting each veteran’s needs and preferences.