The Department of Veteran Affairs needs to work hand in hand with the Department of Interior if a hospital for veterans is to be built.
Otherwise the local Office of Veteran Affairs can only discuss and talk about this need but it will never happen.
This was the position of the Governor’s Veterans Affairs Officer, Rosie Fualaau Lancaster, at a House hearing this morning to discuss health care for veterans.
Leasina Faipule, Gafatasi Afalava asked Lancaster why the Veterans Administration cannot build or provide funding to construct a new hospital for local veterans.
According to Lancaster, because American Samoa is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior, the US Department of Veteran Affairs cannot allocate funding for local veterans until they consult with the Department of Interior.
The VA officer also commented that Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen should step up and fight to remove provisions that prevent the delivery of certain health services for local veterans.
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Rep. Afalava acknowledged improvements made since Lancaster headed the VA office.
There are currently 3,300 plus veterans registered with the local VA Office.
However, only less than 1,000 veterans are being served at the Faleomavaega Outpatient Medical Clinic in Tafuna.
This number doesn’t include family members of veterans.
Lancaster said services are limited because of lack of funding..
The only source of funding for their office comes from the Governor’s Office budget and it is not sufficient to accommodate the needs of veterans.
She said she would appreciate it if the Fono sees fit to appropriate some funding to assist her office in serving veterans.