To the Editor:
I would like to take a minute to thank our federal and state representatives, along with our local leaders, for taking an active role in sorting out the new Choice program for Martha’s Vineyard veterans. As many people have followed in the news, this has been an ongoing health care issue for veterans on the Vineyard. The new Choice program has not been working on the Island. An answer was needed for both our local veterans and their providers. A team was put together to research the problem.
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Veterans Outreach Program, in conjunction with Jo Ann Murphy, Dukes County veterans service agent, and with the incredible help of Dr. VanBeber from the Hyannis VA clinic, as well as Tim Walsh, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO, organized an open meeting with representatives from the VA and Health Net Insurance, as well as local veterans. Invitations to attend and participate in the meeting were sent to our legislative contingency, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, Congressman William Keating, State Senator Wolf, and State Representative Tim Madden, as well as to personnel from the Providence VA and Health Net. The date and time were advertised and set. Legislators and/or their staffs were on board to attend.
Then, as we on the Vineyard are accustomed to, the weather interfered, and the boat did not run to the Island. Thanks to the quick thinking of Rep. Madden and the help of the Steamship Authority, a conference room was set up for the representatives, legislators, and staffs, so they were able to keep their appointment with the veterans — albeit across the Sound. The veterans at the American Legion in Vineyard Haven did have their questions heard and answered by conference call and over a PA system (Feb. 17, “Federal officials get an earful from Martha’s Vineyard veterans”). On behalf of the veterans of Martha’s Vineyard, we thank you all.
As of the last full week of February, we were made aware of at least one serious situation being resolved as soon as possible, ensuring access to the health care services we should be receiving — health insurance coverage each and every veteran earned when we were asked to serve.
Bill Stafursky, veterans outreach coordinator
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services