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VA town hall meeting scheduled for today

Veterans can voice concerns about health care and benefits Wednesday at a town hall meeting at Pahrump Valley High hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The meeting, sponsored by the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Pahrump Valley High School gymnasium, 501 E. Calvada Blvd.

This will be the fourth VA town hall meeting in Southern Nevada since Sept. 25. They’re part of an initiative by VA Secretary Robert McDonald to improve communications and hear directly from veterans. Those steps are aimed at improving services for veterans and rebuilding trust after national headlines last year about long wait times for VA care — and records that were altered to hide the waits.

“We will have Subject Matter Experts for many of the services and programs VA Las Vegas currently offers on hand to help with individual issues and/or challenges accessing those services,” says the VA announcement for the Pahrump meeting.

With the town hall meeting set to address veterans’ health care and benefits in town, Rep. Cresent Hardy was scheduled to speak on one of the major issues surrounding the topic Tuesday.

Hardy’s spokesman Scott Knuteson said the congressman planned to give a one-minute speech on the delayed VA center in front of the House of Representatives Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s meeting in Pahrump.

Two members of Hardy’s office will be in attendance at the town hall meeting, and will relay its outcomes to the congressman.

Those two members will also have a mobile outreach office at the Pahrump Senior Center from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at the Pahrump Senior Center and from 12 p.m. to 1 pm. at an office located at 1321 S. Highway 160, suite 4B, to address concerns from residents.

In the letter sent out last month, Hardy asked VA Secretary Robert McDonald to explain why the project had become stalled again, stating, “The critical demand for a quality veteran care facility has gone unanswered for far too long.”

He also questioned what steps the VA was taking to move the project forward and how long it would take to finish the work.

“As a former contractor and businessman in Nevada, I am familiar with the challenges of building a state-of-the-art facility and have personally handled projects of this size,” Hardy wrote. “From my experience there is no justification for this delay.”

Knuteson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Hardy had received conflicting reports about the project, hearing from some the VA is near-ready to break ground while others said it could be another 12-18 months.

The clinic has been in planning for the better part of the last three years, with various issues being cited as reasons why construction has yet to begin.

The clinic would almost double the 4,500-square-foot rented facility in use now on Calvada Boulevard.

There are about 8,000 veterans living in Nye County, of which 6,000 live in Pahrump.

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