FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Senator Dan Sullivan, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie held a Veterans town hall in Fairbanks on Friday at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly chambers.
According to the Senator, he and the Secretary discussed topics that ranged from veteran's individual concerns, to the lack of space in the veteran's affairs facilities on Fort Wainwright.
Both the Senator and the Secretary said that because Alaska has the highest number of veterans per capita, the Federal Government will be focused on making improvements to Alaska's Veterans Affairs needs.
"There is something else that is going on that relates to our military and particularly our veterans, and that is a very significant planning and it is going to happen. Build up of our Veterans facilities. The VA working with our local here, and the congressional offices is, has plans to start expansion, significant expansions of VA facilities in Fairbanks, In the Mat-Su Valley, in Anchorage, into Kenai and in Juneau,” said Sullivan. According to the Senator, about fifty percent of veterans in Alaska do not communicate with the VA, making it difficult to fulfill their needs. He went on to say that just having a VA building on post, makes it difficult for people who are no longer in the military.
Secretary Wilkie, whose father was stationed in Fairbanks when Wilkie was a child, has visited the Interior in his role as Secretary on several occasions. For this visit, Wilkie wanted to make sure he told veterans that they have an advocate in DC.
"What I have presented to Senator Sullivan and his colleagues the largest budget of this department. 220-billion dollars. I am also a head of the President’s task force on suicide. It is my goal to open up an aperture of funds that could come to Alaska. To help with the elimination and prevention of suicide. We are doing that with homelessness and I think that we are on the right path,” said Wilkie.
Secretary Wilkie went on to say that Veterans Affairs will be moving resources from across the country to places with a more robust veterans population.