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Harriman mayor visits D.C. to fight for proposed VA hospital

8:19 PM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
Covenant Health will leave the Roane Medical Center building in February.
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Harriman Mayor Chris Mason is back from a trip to Washington, D.C.

He spoke with Veterans Affairs on Monday about a proposed veterans hospital in his community.

The idea has been on the table for about four years, but Mason has been pursuing it for about a year.

It was the first time the mayor spoke directly with Veterans Affairs.

Mason says Veterans Affairs could lease the Roane Medical Center building for $1 a year. The building will be available in February when Covenant Health relocates.

"It's tremendously frustrating. I drove 1,077 miles to offer a multi-million dollar functioning building to somebody for a dollar and for somebody not to just get it like we get it, yeah it's frustrating," Mason said.

Thousands of veterans live in the 12-county area the hospital would serve.

Right now, veterans need to drive two-and-a-half hours to the next closest one.

Vietnam veteran Steve McBay of Harriman is a community member in support of the hospital.

"The veterans are what made this country what it is. The veterans down the years have protected this country. When the veterans need something, this country needs to learn to bend over backwards to make sure they have it. So it's been a little bit of a disrespectful feeling," McBay said.

Mason is encouraging community members to contact their legislators.

He is hoping Veterans Affairs will come visit Roane Medical Center.

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