Despite shutdown, it’s business as usual at the Salisbury VA

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, January 8, 2019

By Andie Foley

As the now third-longest government shutdown on record continues, things remain business as usual for Rowan’s largest federal employer.

The employer? Salisbury’s W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center. Just under 3,100 are employed through Salisbury’s VA system, including employees at the Charlotte CBOC and Health Care Center and the Kernersville Health Care System. The veterans hospital is among the top five employers in Rowan County.

All facets of the Veterans Affairs are funded due to advanced appropriations.

At Salisbury’s site, business as usual includes a wide variety of services: over 20 different services and specialties are listed on the hospital’s website. The Salisbury VA provides veterans with access to a vision clinic, community living center, extended care and rehabilitation, imaging and radiology and more.

The facility also offer psychological care, addressing needs of service men and women on the broad spectrum. There’s both in-patient and outpatient treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health service line and weekend couples retreats. The VA even offers a “hoptel,” overnight accommodations for veterans with scheduled clinic appointments or procedures offering a bed, linens, private bath, and an evening meal.

Staff at the Salisbury VA said they were unable to comment about the shutdown. However, a December statement issued by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie provides additional insight into VA operations during the ongoing shutdown. In the statement, Wilkie thanked President Donald Trump and Congress in late December for the fully funded 2019 fiscal year.

“In the event of a partial government shutdown, all VA operations will continue unimpeded,” Wilkie said. “We thank the president and Congress for their commitment to our nation’s heroes in funding VA, and stand ready to provide all of the VA benefits and services our veterans have earned.”

Advanced appropriations for the Veterans Health Administration became law in 2009, following the passage of the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act.

The act authorizes appropriations one year in advance for all VA medical care programs.

Doing such prevented essential employees — doctors, nurses and other support staff — from being required to work without the certainty of pay.

Advanced funding for the Veterans Benefits Administration would follow after the 2013 shutdown scare threatened benefit payments for millions of veterans.