Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Senator Murray wants to know Peake's words turn to action

Veterans also asked Murray for her take on James Peake, the new Veteran Affairs secretary. Peake, sworn into the office in December, appears to be sympathetic to veterans' causes, but Murray said she's not yet convinced his words will translate into action.

"I'm holding his feet to the fire."

Sen. Murray hears veterans' concerns during local stop
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 6:22 AM PDT
By Stephanie Mathieu

Local veterans told a key lawmaker on Monday that they need quicker access to health care, more beds in veteran hospitals and more rural veteran clinics.But U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said she was most shocked to learn 1,100 veterans in Cowlitz County are homeless or living in transitional housing."That's appalling," she said.

Murray, a member of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee for 14 years, listened for an hour to local vets at the Cowlitz County Administration building, hoping to relay their stories to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.Transportation is a huge problem, the veterans panel said. Many must commute to Seattle or Vancouver to take advantage of veteran care."

The distance, the travel is extraordinary," said Wendy Carolan, chairwoman of the Lewis County Veteran Advisory Board. "It's a problem of being able to get our veterans to where the services are being provided."A mobile veterans clinic that visited rural areas, such as Long Beach, was discontinued, said Ray Palmer, a veteran from Pacific County. "It was a great thing for older veterans," Palmer said. "Just getting to (Interstate 5) is a chore."
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