Sen. Tim Kaine meets with veterans, discusses mental health at Salem VA Medical Center

Photos by Shawn Nowlin
Sen. Tim Kaine talking about the bill he helped introduce to improve mental health access for veterans.
One of the many local veterans that Sen. Kaine met during his visit to the Salem VA.

In June 2017, Senator Tim Kaine visited Roanoke College to participate in a health care rally.

Said the senator at the time, “We should be covering more people. Not only should the price of prescription drugs be brought down, but our veterans should have more resources at their disposal.” The former Virginia Governor has been a leader in the Senate when it comes to ensuring that veterans have quality health care.

Kaine, the junior Democratic Virginia senator, made another visit to Salem on March 19 to meet with veterans at the VA Medical Center, tour the facility and receive a progress update from staff members. He, along with Senator Mark Warner, recently helped introduce bipartisan legislation to improve veterans’ access to mental health care and help ensure veterans’ lives are not lost to suicide.

“As a senator from Virginia, I always maintain that we are the most connected of all the states to the nation’s military mission. One out of nine Virginians are veterans,” said Mr. Kaine. “We have to keep our promises to our nation’s vets. The President sent his budget over last week. The issue that many vets here have shared with me is not just about the overall number it contains,  but also how we propose to spend the budget.”

Privatization is defined as “the transfer of a business, industry or service from public to private ownership and control.” When vets got an opportunity to speak to the senator, they expressed their feelings on the subject as it relates to the VA.

“One of the things I discussed with Senator Kaine was the problem I have with the idea of privatizing the VA because of the negative impact it will have on some many people,” said Army Veteran Bernard Arrington. Added Marvin Johnson, “I spent over 15 years in the US Army, and I had deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I, too, am concerned of what will happen if the VA becomes privatized.”

A typical week for Dr. Rebecca Stackhouse, the Salem VA Medical Center Director, consists of engaging and interacting with veterans as well as getting their feedback on a variety of pertinent issues.

“One thing that we have seen is suicide with veterans. Of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, it’s estimated that about 16 of them do not access VA services,” Dr. Stackhouse said. “As an organization, it’s vital that we partner with the community and other institutions to reach veterans wherever they are, so they have the necessary resources and support that’s needed.”

Minutes before taking questions from the press, Senator Kaine thanked Salem VA employees for their hard work.

“We’ve got some fantastic federal employees here at the VA. The federal family is an amazing one with talented professionals. We put them through a lot of suffering earlier this year with the 35-day government shutdown that impacted more than 800,000 federal employees,” he said. “It is important during Federal Employee Appreciation Week to thank them for all of their hard work. If I had to pick a favorite among the federal family, I’m going to pick VA employees” (NASISLIKE)

more recommended stories