U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) said Wednesday he extended an invitation to newly confirmed Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald to visit Southern Illinois VA facilities.
“I wanted to reach out to Secretary McDonald so that he could see and hear what I’ve seen and heard here in Southern Illinois,” Enyart said. “I’ve visited VA facilities from Marion to Belleville, and I keep hearing the same things — we’re understaffed, we need new infrastructure, and there needs to less red tape. The Secretary can benefit from hearing these concerns first hand.”
Enyart asked McDonald to join the congressman on a tour of Southern Illinois VA medical facilities.
“One thing I learned commanding the Illinois National Guard, there is no better way to understand a problem than to put boots on the ground,” Enyart wrote in his letter. “I would like to invite you to visit the facilities in my district, to visit with patients and staff, and see the situation for yourself.”
Enyart also hopes to review with McDonald the funding contained in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, that was passed in the House last week, with Enyart’s support. The bill includes $10 billion in emergency funding for expanded health care options for veterans, $5 billion in emergency funding to bolster care within the VA, and $2 billion in non-emergency funding for other services for veterans and their families.
Since May, Enyart has made impromptu visits to the Marion VA Hospital, the Marion VA outpatient facility, and the Belleville VA outpatient facility. He plans to continue making unscheduled stops throughout the region. Additionally, he has been working with the Marion VA Facility to ensure timely access to health care for Southern Illinois veterans. The 12th Congressional District of Illinois has the highest number of veterans of any district in the state — including the Chicago area.