CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) — A move by a group of United States senators Monday ensures the Chillicothe VA Medical Center will remain open.
In a statement issued by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Monday, Brown and other members of the Senate’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced it would not be moving forward with assigning members to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, essentially ending the AIR commission.
The commission was part of the VA MISSION Act, passed in 2018 and signed into law by President Donald Trump. The law tasked the Department of Veterans Affairs to come up with recommendations to “modernize VA medical facilities and health care delivery.”
“I’m nothing short of ecstatic and so very appreciative for everyone who rallied to support the Chillicothe VA and the good work they do,” said Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney.
In March, the Department of Veterans Affairs recommended the Chillicothe facility be closed, replaced with outpatient services, and send patients to other Ohio VA facilities in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton. According to the department’s report, the building needs more than $75 million in improvements.
The facility serves 20,000 veterans in 17 counties.
The AIR commission was set to review the department’s recommendations. Now, that won’t be happening.
The commission was to have been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Without the Senate’s approval of the nominees, the commission will not be established.
Brown was joined by Ohio’s other senator, Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in issuing the joint statement.
“We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal, and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward,” the statement reads.