SPARTA, N.J. – A resolution Assemblyman Parker Space and Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus sponsor supporting the expansion of access to healthcare to veterans residing in Sussex County today received General Assembly approval.
“Nearly 50,000 veterans reside in Sussex County and its neighboring counties, but because Sussex and Warren counties do not have a VA outpatient clinic, our veterans have to travel unreasonable distances to receive the healthcare they have earned,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “Many men and women who served and sacrificed suffer from PTSD or have debilitating injuries and do not have the means to travel.
“Access to high-quality healthcare shouldn’t be a burden. There’s no question there is a need for a clinic in Northwest Jersey,” he continued. “I am privileged and honored to support this effort.”
The bill, AR-213, which supports the establishment of a federal Department of Veterans Affairs community-based clinic in Sussex County, was approved by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee in November.
“Sussex and Warren are the only two counties in New Jersey that don’t have a veterans’ outpatient clinic,” said Phoebus, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “The closest in-state clinic is in Morris Plains. Another in Port Jervis is closer to some parts of Sussex, but because it is in New York it is outside the state network and not all services cross state lines.”
“Not only would a clinic in the county offer closer services to local veterans, but it would also alleviate pressure on other veterans’ clinics and reduce well-documented wait times,” she added.
According to the VA New Jersey Health Care System website, clinics such as the one in Morris Plains provide primary care, behavioral health services, lab work and other routine medical care for veterans.
“Veterans in Sussex County need access to basic primary care medical services,” said Mike DeVilliers, a U.S. Army veteran who coordinates veterans’ services at Sussex County Community College. He asked Space to sponsor the measure. “Providing medical services to veterans is primarily the federal government’s responsibility, but it’s a tremendous support to know that our state elected representatives are behind our veterans in Sussex County.”
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs New Jersey Health Care System (VANJHCS) provides veterans with access to medical care, with an emphasis on primary care, surgery, critical care, mental health, orthopedics, pharmacy, radiology and physical therapy. Its two main campuses are in East Orange (the corporate office), and Lyons. Satellite outpatient clinics are located in Brick Township, Elizabeth, Hackensack, Hamilton, Jersey City, Morristown, Paterson, Piscataway and Tinton Falls.
The U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA) administers nearly 1,400 outpatient clinics and other services for nearly nine million veterans nationwide.
The Senate passed an identical resolution, SR-114, sponsored by Sen. Steven Oroho, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris, in July. Former Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose is also a resolution sponsor.