Congressman Faleomavaega announced that on Wednesday June 15, 2005 he met with Dr. Robert Wiebe, Director of the Veterans’ Administration Network 21 which has jurisdiction for American Samoa. Also attending the meeting was Dr. Brian O’Neill, Acting Director of the Pacific Islands Health Care System, formerly known as the VA Regional Center in Honolulu.
“Dr. Wiebe and Dr. O’Neill were in Washington DC recently and we had an opportunity to discuss our ongoing plans to establish a VA clinic in American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I am pleased that plans for our VA clinic are progressing and, most importantly, I want to thank the U.S. Army Reserves for agreeing to give us the old Army Reserve Center rather than the butler building.”
“This is fantastic news for our veterans because we will be able to use the facility for our clinic and other VA services. The acquisition of this building also sends a strong message that our VA clinic is here to stay and we have room to grow in the future.”
“Prior to any renovation, the VA will first do an asbestos check on the building. Once these tests are conducted, renovation will begin in 2006 and it is expected that the clinic will open in 2007. As agreed, we will have one full time physician and one nurse to begin and we hope to expand these services as more and more veterans register.”
“It is very important for our veterans to begin the registration process now. If you don’t register, you don’t exist. For this reason, I am asking all veterans who have not registered to contact my office so we can assist you with the registration process.”
“The VA has also asked me to provide a list of names of physicians who would be interested in coming to American Samoa to head up our clinic. I especially want to encourage all Samoan doctors who may be interested in returning home to help our veterans to contact me immediately. All other interested parties are also encouraged to apply.”
“Once again, I want to thank the VA for working closely with my office to move this project forward. This project has been five years in the making and finally in 2004 the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission agreed with me that a veteran’s community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) should be established in American Samoa.”
“Only 156 new clinics will be established in the U.S. and, thanks to those who supported this effort and initiative, one will be located in our Territory. So once more I thank Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Daniel Akaka, Congressman Chris Smith, former Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Congressman Lane Evans, Ranking Member of the Committee, General John Ma of the 9th Regional Support Command, and the American Samoa Legislature.”
“I also thank the CARES Commission for giving me the opportunity to testify and submit supporting documentation showing that American Samoa deserved a VA clinic.
As a Vietnam veteran, I believe every veteran living in American Samoa deserves quality health care and VA services. Our sons and daughters have served in record numbers in every U.S. military engagement from WWII to present operations in Iraq. We have stood by the United States in good times and bad and I am pleased that the CARES Commission has recognized our service and agreed that is time to do right by American Samoa’s veterans.”
“Above all, I thank American Samoa’s veterans and our active duty service members. I applaud them for their military service. I thank them for their support and I continue to wish them and their families the very best,” the Congressman concluded.