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Lawmakers hear veterans' health care concerns

Roundtable talk held in Oxford

State Rep. Todd Smola, R-Palmer, sits and listens along with Rep. Paul Frost, R-Auburn, and Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton, during a public hearing held at Oxford Town Hall Wednesday, Sept. 29, where they heard the thoughts of local veterans concerning the availability of health care locally. Joy Richard. (click for larger version)
October 03, 2010
OXFORD — Local representatives came together last week at Oxford Town Hall to hear from local veterans on health care access.

Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton, held a public hearing Wednesday, Sept. 29, along with Rep. Paul Frost, R-Auburn, and Rep. Todd Smola, R-Palmer, as a part of the newly formed Subcommittee on Improving Access to Veterans Healthcare Services.

The subcommittee includes the three local representatives and two others, Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, and Rep. Barbara L'Italien, D-North Andover, who could not attend the Oxford hearing.

Along with local veterans, representatives also had the opportunity to hear from local officials from Harrington Memorial Hospital and the American Legion.

Rep. Harold Naughton, D-Clinton, originally formed the subcommittee, which was his response to Frost's filing possible legislation that sought to seek a study regarding veterans access to the five veteran's hospital throughout Massachusetts and to help them access better health care in their region.

"Veterans here in Central Massachusetts must travel to one of the veteran's hospitals, which in many cases are well over 40 miles away from their homes," said Frost. "Though there are clinics in the region to address short-term health care needs locally, for anything that requires a hospital visit the veteran and their family must travel even through there are many area hospitals, which they could go to instead."

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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