Senator Sullivan hosts VA Secretary Wilkie in Fairbanks

Secretary Wilkie and Senator Sullivan meet with Bassett Hospital Leadership on Ft. Wainwright. (Photo Credit: Office of Senator Dan Sullivan)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) today hosted U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie in Fairbanks, where they toured the Bassett Army Community Hospital on Ft. Wainwright, including the VA’s Community Based Outpatient Clinic, received briefings from hospital and state VA leadership, and met with local VA employees. Afterward, Senator Sullivan and Secretary Wilkie convened a town hall with Interior veterans at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Chambers.

“Since 2015, we’ve been working relentlessly to ensure that our Alaska veterans receive the care they have earned and deserve—an issue made even more crucial as we expand our military in Alaska,” said Senator Sullivan. “With Secretary Robert Wilkie’s support, along with the steadfast leadership of Alaska VA Healthcare Director Dr. Timothy Ballard, we are making headway. We have more doctors and nurses in our community clinics, are working to expand facilities across the state, have significantly boosted VA personnel in the Alaska VA Healthcare System, and prevented a one-size-fits-all approach to veterans’ health care in the VA MISSION Act. In fact, in 2018, the Alaska VA Healthcare System was recognized by the national VA as the most improved for in-patient experience in 2018. But we aren’t done. As we get more members of the military stationed in Alaska, greater facility expansion and more health care services are needed. I want to thank Secretary Wilkie for coming to Alaska to hear directly from our veterans and for working so close to us in D.C. to help spread the message that ‘help is on the way.’”

“Alaska’s Veterans population is growing and we have to be more creative here than in other areas to deal with that growth,” said Secretary Wilkie. “I appreciate the opportunity to join with Sen. Sullivan to tour the facilities and listen to our VA staff’s ideas on how best to provide them with the tools they need to ensure Veterans receive the care they deserve.”

BACKGROUND:

Since 2015, Senator Sullivan has worked to protect Alaska’s unique healthcare system. Those efforts include:

• Increasing the number of physicians at VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics around the state.
• Boosting recruitment with more than 100 new employees in the Alaska VA Health Care System (AVAHS).
• Reverting appointment referrals back to the local VA.
• Including Alaska-specific provisions in the new VA MISSION Act, preventing a one-size-fits-all approach to veterans’ health care.
• Working to ensure that collection agencies don’t harass veterans for care authorized by the VA.