To the editor: Northampton VA hospital provides medical and psychiatric care, substance abuse counseling, treatment of PTSD, nursing home care for elderly veterans and women's services. ("The government wants to close the VA hospital in Northampton. A state senator and veteran says that's a 'slap in the face'," Eagle, March 16.)
There are 85 beds for behavior care, 32 nursing care and 16 for addiction recovery. They also run 12 Veteran Affairs Departments for Berkshire and Hampshire Counties covering 927 square miles. Northampton VA is affiliated with University of Massachusetts Medical School as well as schools in dentistry, nursing, psychology, optometry, occupational therapy, social work, pharmacy and more.
Closure of Northampton VA Hospital would force vets to travel to Springfield, Boston or Connecticut. From Cummington, Boston would be 105 miles away (two hours of traveling). West Haven, Conn., is 90 miles (1.5 hours). Springfield would be 29 miles (half-hour). Shuttles would be an all-day traveling trip. (Early morning pick-up and drop off in the evening.) Of course getting an appointment at these places takes weeks.
Why should we force a very important VA hospital for all these women and men that protected our country to close? This hospital was built in 1923 and has recently done many updates and remodeling of the buildings.
I am speaking for my 100 percent disabled veteran husband who passed away but got the best care during his declining health at Northampton VA Hospital for over 40 years. I know many other vets who use this important Hospital.
Rosemary Seifert-Graf, Cummington