Placido Salazar
Placido Salazar

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – What better way to honor our more than 120,000 Rio Grande Valley veterans than to finally build and maintain a VA hospital in the region?

This means pressing all of our South Texas congressmen, including newly-elected  Filemon Vela, Pete Gallego, and Joaquin Castro, as well as others who have been promising for years to fight for a 24/7 full-service hospital, including ER and long-term in-patient treatment for our mostly-impoverished Veterans.

Having the “most modern, ‘state-of-the-art’ medical care” at Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio, a ten-hour 500-mile round trip away, is like placing It on top of a greased telephone pole. When our men and women presently serving come home, that will only make a bad situation worse.  Too many of our Veterans, who already paid with their blood, sweat and tears for the medical/psychological care they need, as a result of bravely and loyally serving our country,  are medically or financially unable to make the trip to San Antonio.

That is a travesty which can and must, be resolved by our congressmen.  Just ‘introducing’ legislation every session, but not bothering to take it out of a subcommittee is just a cruel and shameful game which our injured or ill veterans should not have to cope with.  Too many of our ill Veterans are unfortunately forced to forgo their entitled medical care, and pushed into a very-preventable, painful death.

Building a full-service 24/7 VA hospital in this most-economically depleted region would not only provide desperately-needed medical/psychological care for our very-deserving veterans, but would immediately provide thousands of jobs for medical and construction personnel (including secondary supplier companies), but would also continue to draw more “Winter Texans,” who would probably decide to stay here permanently.   What an economic boost this would be for our Rio Grande Valley.

A Valley VA hospital would free-up thousands of medical appointments, to better serve every other veteran presently served by Audie Murphy Hospital, from Del Rio to Ozona to Johnson City to Schulenburg, to Corpus Christi.

Our country needs to take better care of those who sacrificed their youth and health in a military uniform.  YOU – can start the ball rolling – today!

Placido Salazar is a USAF retired Vietnam War veteran. He was born and raised in Edcouch/La Villa and now resides in San Antonio. His guest columns appear regularly in the Guardian.