NJ Herald: Grand opening of Newton VA clinic
NEWTON — It was a long-awaited milestone, with many hiccups along the way, but the ribbon was officially cut on Monday morning for the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System Sussex Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Newton.
It was a “day of celebration,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who attended among scores of people that included Congressmen Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-11th), Leonard Lance (R-7th) and Josh Gottheimer (D-5th).
The 3,800-square-foot CBOC facility, which had been in the works for years and was stalled by months of delays, opened on Jan. 9 and has since offered primary health care services with on-site primary care providers to veterans in Sussex and Warren counties.
“This is a truly great day made possible by so many great leaders, grassroots leaders all the way up to the ones we have in Washington,” Booker said inside the clinic surrounded by nearly
Booker said he was “pained” and “frustrated” to see veterans struggling in the state, lacking in jobs and falling into homelessness, something he saw dating back to when he was mayor of Newark in 2006.
“We are a great nation, our greatness shouldn’t be judged by the wealth of our industry, it shouldn’t be judged, frankly, by the size of our military, it should be judged by how we treat those who serve in that military,” he said.
Booker said there is still a lot more work to do.
“The local veterans’ groups here, the VFW, the American Legion, you all inspire me every day,” he said. “The insights that veterans themselves gave my staff (during a forum in Sussex County) helped us to push a lot of good things down in Washington.”
Booker said although he will be tireless in continuing his work, it is of vital importance to stay vigilant.
“We need to make sure this CBOC is all that we hope it is and all that it must be to meet the medical needs of our veterans,” he said.
Frelinghuysen, who was honored by Booker for his “hard work to get us to this day,” has been heralded as the individual who pressured the VA to get the facility up and running in the county.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, having served in the Vietnam War, Frelinghuysen gave credit to U.S. VA Secretary David Schulkin, who he said “broke the logjam” for Sussex and Warren county veterans and acknowledged the doctors, nurses and staff members at the VA clinic who were in attendance.
Lance said he was “well aware” in Washington of the need for clinics in the rural areas of New Jersey and read a quote by Abraham Lincoln that is engraved on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs administration building in Washington: “To care for him, who shall have born the borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”
“It is in that spirit we are here today,” Lance added.
Lance also stressed the importance of bipartisan cooperation, saying, “We must work together always to support our veterans.”
Gottheimer, who said that although he might be “new” to his role as congressman, he is not new to the issues that veterans face and how much work it takes to get things done.
His grandfather, who served during World War, Gottheimer said, had a quote by General George S. Patton — ‘”We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me or get out of the way” — on his night table that he read over and over again.
“This was about getting things done for veterans, to make sure they had the health care and the education services they need,” he said.
Gottheimer said he is committed to fighting to make sure that the clinic is strong going forward and that, from education to health care to jobs, “we have (the veterans’) backs, because you deserve it.”
“The best days are ahead of us,” he added.
Vincent F. Immiti, director of the New Jersey VA Health Care System, said that it was his honor
the past eight weeks, the amount of time in which he has held his position, to meet with people in the system, including veterans and stakeholders.
“This clinic is the culmination of the hard work of many, many different people,” he said, adding that Associate Director John Griffith had worked “tirelessly” to implement the clinic with the support of others.
Joan E. McInerney, network director of the New York/New Jersey VA Health Care Network that serves inpatient and outpatient medical services to veterans in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said, “We recognize the importance of access to this care in ways that meet the needs of the veterans and the communities where they live and work.”
The Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System Sussex Community-Based Outpatient Clinic is located at 222 High Street, Suite 103, in Newton and is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Veterans interested in receiving services or for more information, call 973-756-1504.