Northern New York Newspapers
NNY Business
NNY Living
Wed., Oct. 7
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
Related Stories

Operations Veterans members will get a face-to-face with Cuomo next week


A group of north country veterans and their supporters will meet next week with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to discuss the possibility of establishing a veterans hospital in Ogdensburg.

Building such a hospital closer to home has been the chief objective of Operation Veterans since the group first formed in 2011 to address issues facing north country veterans.

There are outpatient clinics for veterans in Watertown, Massena and Malone. But veterans say they offer limited services. Anything beyond basic primary care that calls for a specialist has to be done at Veterans Administration Medical Centers in Syracuse or Albany.

Veterans and their supporters say Syracuse and Albany are too far, especially for elderly and disabled veterans, to travel to receive medical services.

“The distance between is about 135 miles one way and 270 miles round-trip,” organization member Susan J. Rupert said. “For veterans traveling from Malone or Franklin County to Albany, it is even farther than that.”

Waiting times and appointment dates are also a hassle, she said.

“The waiting period is outrageous,” Ms. Rupert said. “We had a veteran who recently went down and scheduled an appointment in Syracuse, and was told he wouldn’t be seen until October for a test that he is supposed to have every three months. A lot of veterans can’t make the trip. It is getting expensive. That combined with the age of some of the veterans, some of them are forgoing treatments because of it.”

In addition to outlining the needs of veterans, Operation Veterans will also highlight the economic benefits of establishing a hospital.

“You are talking about jobs for out-of-work nurses and internships of the college students,” Ms. Rupert said. “Instead of having to go out of the area, students and graduates can work right here. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of the college students.”

Mr. Cuomo’s office offered the hour-long, face-to-face meeting with Operation Veterans after seeing an informational packet sent by the members. Operation Veterans members will propose use of the Pritchard Building at the St. Lawrence County Psychiatric Center, 1 Chimney Point Drive, as a possible site.

The group has met and sent letters to U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

“Everybody has expressed their support,” Ms. Rupert said.

There are 152 Veterans Administration medical centers nationwide.

“The VA supports any efforts to provide care and services to our nation’s veterans,” VA spokeswoman Sue Hopkins said. “However, it wouldn’t be appropriate for the national VA to comment on a proposal for veteran’s health care facility on the state level.”

The meeting will take place Tuesday. The group is currently looking for letters of support from community members, particularly veterans, to take with them to Albany.

“We want to see some feedback on how veterans and the community feel about establishing the hospital,” Ms. Rupert said. “We want to hear about their problems or their economic reasons — just overall how they feel about it so we can best address their needs when we go to Albany.”

“I’d love for the mailman to drop off a whole bag,” she said.

Letters may be sent to 925 Ford St., Ogdensburg, 13669.

Commenting rules:
  1. Stick to the topic of the article/letter/editorial.
  2. When responding to issues raised by other commenters, do not engage in personal attacks or name-calling.
  3. Comments that include profanity/obscenities or are libelous in nature will be removed without warning.
Violators' commenting privileges may be revoked indefinitely. By commenting you agree to our full Terms of Use.
Syracuse Football Tickets Giveaway
Connect with Us
OGD on FacebookOGD on Twitter