Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that just passed the Senate Appropriations Committee includes $122,400,000 for the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus. The bill, along with the funding allotment for construction at the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus, now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The Canandaigua VA is one of only four VA construction projects in the country that Senate appropriators have recommended receive funds. The $122 million appropriation for the Canandaigua VA represents a substantial portion of Canandaigua’s estimated $300 million redevelopment plan; which includes additional housing and services. Schumer has been a longtime supporter of the Canandaigua VA Medical campus and projects like the Cadence Square housing development. If the Senate passes the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, construction can move forward on this critical project for the Canandaigua VA, and Schumer and Gillibrand are urging their colleagues to pass the bill. The same funding allotment for the Canandaigua VA Medical Campus was included in the House version of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that passed the House by a 416-1 vote in late April.
The Canandaigua VA’s major reconstruction project was announced in 2007, following the community and Schumer’s successful effort in 2004 to convince the federal Capital Asset Realignment for Enhances Services (CARES) Commission to not only keep the VA Campus open, but to modernize it for future generations of veterans. To begin the redevelopment project, Schumer helped secure $36.58 million in FY10 to complete a new campus master plan, begin the project’s preliminary design work, and complete environmental assessments. Last year, Schumer successfully pushed VA Secretary Shinseki to include funding for Canandaigua VA in their budget request.
“This bill’s passage out of committee is great news for Rochester-Finger Lakes area veterans who are now only one step away from securing critical federal funds for a revitalized VA Medical Center in Canandaigua,” said Schumer. “Now that this bill is set to hit the Senate floor, I will fight to make sure it is passed with Canandaigua VA’s funding intact, and I will continue to push to get the full $300 million that the Canandaigua VA needs to complete its redevelopment project. Only ten years ago we were in the trenches fighting to keep this Medical Center open; now we are on a clear path to making it one of the shining lights of the entire VA system.”
“New York is home to more than one million men and women who have answered our nation’s call and served with distinction in our Armed Forces,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “When these brave men and women return home to the country they served, we must deliver on our promise to them, including having a home and the resources necessary to provide for their families. This project would improve medical care and show this country’s commitment to caring for its veterans. They and their families have sacrificed for all of us and owe them for their incredible service.”
The Center currently has 228 beds, 80 domicile beds, and 138 nursing beds that are often largely filled. Adding additional housing and services to the campus has been a priority in order to provide local veterans with a continuum of care. As such, in October 2012, Schumer secured a lease agreement to construct the Cadence Square housing facility for homeless veterans on the Canandaigua VA campus.
The planned $300+ million major reconstruction project will help ensure the Canandaigua VA Campus remains state-of-the-art to meet the medical needs of our veterans. Specifically, the estimated $300 million major reconstruction project calls for the construction of six cottage-style nursing care housing units each with two 10-bed units, for a total of 120 beds for nursing, hospice, and geropsychiatric care. In addition, Building 9 will be redeveloped into a 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility, and Buildings 1,2,3, and 4 will be redeveloped for outpatient services, behavioral health services and administrative support departments. This proposal is for the construction of a new 120-bed Community Living Center (CLC), outpatient clinic, and a renovated 50-bed domiciliary facility along with complete renovation of several existing buildings for administrative/logistical services at the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua, New York. The funding requested in 2015 would construct an infill addition between Buildings 1 and 2 and renovation of buildings for the outpatient clinic.
Schumer and Gillibrand highlighted the urgent need for the Canandaigua VA to receive the requisite funding to move forward with reconstruction so that the center can not only care for the region’s aging veterans population, but also help reduce the staggering prevalence of homelessness and addiction among the nation’s recently returning veterans.
The Canandaigua VA Medical Center has provided services for veterans in Rochester and throughout the Finger Lakes region since 1933, and celebrated their 80th anniversary in February 2013. Designated as a VA Center for Excellence, the Canandaigua facility specializes in research and education of mental health issues in addition to housing the national VA Suicide Prevention/Crisis Hotline call center which has fielded approximately 600,000 calls since it opened in 2007. The campus is also the only one in New York State and one of only 20 in the country that offers the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program to afford veterans the opportunity to fully access their benefits. With a large number of veterans returning home only to struggle with mental illness and substance abuse, the Canandaigua VA plays an essential role in ensuring the health and prosperity of our veterans.