Veterans, employees react to recommendation of closing Salem VA Medical Center

That recommendation includes building a new facility in Roanoke

Is the Salem VA Medical Center shutting down? That’s the question veterans want to know.

SALEM, Va. – Is the Salem VA Medical Center shutting down? That’s the question veterans want to know.

As we’ve reported, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a 52-page report this week, recommending renovations or closing several facilities—including the Salem VA Medical Center—due to aging infrastructure.

Patrick Tison, president of Local 1739, represents the employees and said they’re concerned.

“Our office is receiving calls from employees that are wanting to know if we’re actually closing down, if they’re going to lose their jobs,” said Tison.

But Ace Taylor, president of the Roanoke Valley Veterans Council, said the proposal is just that—a proposal.

“Relax and come down. It’s just a recommendation,” said Taylor.

That recommendation includes building a new facility in Roanoke.

“[Roanoke is] a land-lock city when you have all this land right here [in Salem]. They can build it here,” said Taylor.

The current facility was constructed in the 1930s, but the medical center wasn’t built until the 1990s.

A Salem VA spokesperson told 10 News that even if the proposal is accepted, operations would not end in Salem until the new facility is built in Roanoke. And that could be years down the road.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said you need funding to build a modern hospital.

“You can’t make that decision unless you know you’ve got the dollars in hand to build a new one,” said Sen. Kaine.

He said first there will be public input, and he’ll be listening.

“We really need to listen to this public comment period because there’s really one standard: will any change improve care for our veterans or degrade care for our veterans?” he said.


About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.