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Report released by U.S Department of Veterans Affairs recommends closure of four NM clinics

VA clinic located in Española, New Mexico

A report released by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday has caught the attention of many state and federal officials in New Mexico, due to the recommendation of closing four VA community-based outpatient clinics or (CBOCs) across the state.

These clinics, located in Española, Las Vegas, Raton, and Gallup have all seen drops in enrollment and struggled with staffing challenges.

The VA said in their report that once these community-based outpatient clinics close, the responsibility for health care for veterans in these communities would fall to local providers, some of which are located up to 45 minutes away.

Sonya Smith, Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Veterans Services said the VA’s recommendation to move health care to local providers will already stress an overwhelmed health care system.

“So, when you talk about moving away from a set-up system that will help our veterans and moving that, and I don’t want to call it a burden, because our veterans are not a burden, but I think you understand what I’m saying. Moving that to local providers is already going to stress a health care system that has so many stressors already." Smith said.

Smith also said the data compiled in this report is from 2019, and doesn’t properly reflect the impact COVID-19 pandemic.

Any changes made to the VA’s current health care system must be reviewed by the President, Congress, and the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission.

Smith said New Mexico is going to continue doing their best to make sure the VA hears their concerns moving forward.

“Well we're sure going to do our best to make sure they hear us and we’re not going to go away quietly in the night when it comes to this. So every step along the way, we are going to be a thorn in their side letting them know that that will not work in New Mexico.”

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, Gino found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports and sports broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in mass media journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. He can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the Lobo Hockey Network.