Legislators press for decision on new VA clinic

Department of Veterans Affairs James A. Howard Outpatient Clinic located in Brick Township. (MARK R. SULLIVAN/THE OCEAN STAR)

BRICK TOWNSHIP — A bipartisan group of local legislators is calling on the federal government to announce a decision on the location of a new VA clinic to serve the area’s large veterans community.

New Jersey Congressional representatives Chris Smith [R-4] and Andy Kim [D-3], along with Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker [both D-NJ], sent a letter on Nov. 6 to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs asking about progress on plans for a new VA community based outpatient clinic that will either be located in Brick Township or Toms River. 

A decision on the clinic was expected by the beginning of October, according to Brick Township Mayor John Ducey, who has been providing the public with regular updates on the clinic when information is available and has also expressed his frustration with the delay.

The signers of the letter requested that the VA respond to their inquiries by Dec. 8 to “deliver on the promise of better, more timely service for our veterans and ensure our veteran community is properly honored through the delivery of VA excellence,” the mayor said.

In the letter, the legislators cite problems with the current clinic in Brick Township, including: “unacceptably long wait times, too few providers, even fewer options for transportation, difficulty finding parking nearby and a lack of automatic doors at each entrance – preventing wheelchair- bound or disabled veterans from opening the door to the physical therapy clinic without assistance.”

The James J. Howard VA clinic on Route 70 has been described by Mayor Ducey as “bursting at the seams” in regard to the number of services it can provide to the large number of veterans in the area. The mayor said he is frustrated by the delay in the VA’s announcement of a decision on the location of a new clinic.

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