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January 16, 2008 -

Barrasso: Critical Sheridan VA Job Will Be Filled

Senator Applauds VA Secretary for Taking Quick Action

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo. today applauded Veterans’ Affairs Secretary James Peake for assigning a full-time benefits officer to the Sheridan VA Medical Center.

“It is our responsibility as a country to set a standard of excellent care for our Wyoming veterans who have sacrificed for us all,” Barrasso said. “I am thankful that Secretary Peake acted so promptly on my request for a full-time service officer at the Sheridan VA Medical Center. Reversing the 90-day trial allows our veterans to cut through the Washington bureaucracy.”

Earlier this week, the Denver Regional Office announced the appointment of a service officer for a 90-day trial period. Secretary Peake subsequently struck down this half measure in favor of a full-time position.

Barrasso learned of the Sheridan VA staffing problem from VFW State Service Officer Bob Craft Jr. and others during a town meeting in Sheridan in August 2007.

“Veterans in northern Wyoming had access to a service officer just five days a month. The rest of the time, veterans were forced to call a toll-free number. A veteran deserves more for his service than a faceless phone and a toll-free number.”

In September 2007, Barrasso placed a call to then-Secretary Jim Nicholson, and demanded the long term needs of current and future Wyoming veterans be considered over short term staffing issues.

Barrasso subsequently met with Secretary Peake, shortly before his confirmation in December, to discuss rural health issues facing Wyoming veterans. Barrasso restated the need to appoint a full-time benefits representative position at the Sheridan VA facility.

The Sheridan VA facility serves veterans living in Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota .