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National union president makes second trip to Chillicothe VA in hopes to save the facility

Building 31 at the Chillicothe VA is home to the facility's urgent care as the wellness and recovery center.
Terry Dowdy
Submitted Photo
Building 31 at the Chillicothe VA is home to the facility's urgent care as the wellness and recovery center.

Stopping to shake hands with folks who gathered for lunch at the VA auditorium in Chillicothe, Everett Kelley said this trip was very necessary. He said he plans to talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of saving this facility.

“I’m going to fight with everything that I got,” said Kelley.

Kelley is the national president of the union that represents the 1,400 workers of the VA Medical Center in Chillicothe and is back in the Buckeye state for the second time in two months to meet with VA officials. The union boss flew in from Washington, DC for the meetings over the next several days that are aimed at keeping the more than 100 year old hospital from closing.

Read: Veterans concerned about recommendation to close Chillicothe VA Medical Center

Earlier this spring word came that the site was one of 17 that a commission recommended putting on the chopping block because of budget issues. Kelley said this VA is a lifeline for veterans in this community.

“The thing that bothers me is it's tough enough for veterans right now to get the services that they need, and now you're saying that you're going to have to travel another hour and a half to get service. That's unconscionable; it should not happen, “ said Kelley.

Kelley said he is fighting to keep all VA facilities open.

“I don't think that any facilities need to be closed. We need to renovate and make better in a lot of instances, that's true, but I think that we do the veterans a disservice when we close facilities,” he said.

President Biden is expected to make a decision by March 2023.

Williams was a reporter for WOSU. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience.