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Reach out a little


Local veterans deserve to be heardin discussions of the Dom's future

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't seem to be going out of its way to include local vets in discussions over possible closure of the facility formerly known as the VA Domiciliary in White City.

First, the department's CARES Commission has scheduled a hearing on Sept. 26 on the Dom's future. The hearing is in Vancouver, Wash.

Second, only selected individuals from the Rogue Valley will be allowed to testify at the hearing. Written testimony is being accepted, and one of those invited to testify is president of the Dom residents' council, but no other residents or patients will be heard on Sept. 26.

Third, the VA apparently is considering closing or significantly changing services at 30 of its facilities nationwide. But details have been hard to come by.

The Dom apparently made the list in part because its old brick buildings would have difficulty withstanding an earthquake. The VA also is moving away from inpatient treatment and toward more outpatient services ' something the Dom has already done. About 500 patients currently reside there, while the facility serves more than 8,000 outpatients.

— Our biggest concern is that individual veterans, who have the biggest stake in the Dom's future, may travel ' if they are able ' to Vancouver to attend the hearing, but may not speak except through their designated representative.

It's certainly not required that the VA hold a hearing in every town that houses a VA facility. But members of the CARES Commission plan to tour the Dom the day after the Vancouver hearing. Why not hold a hearing here as well?

We sincerely hope those members who tour the Dom take time to talk to residents and other veterans being served there.

We also hope VA officials are forthcoming about what their goals are for the VA system. If the goal is to serve the most veterans most efficiently, we think a case can be made that the Dom is doing that.

Meeting the needs of those who served their country in the military has long been a priority, especially of Republican administrations. At a time when much is being asked of American soldiers across the globe, It's not too much to ask that we continue to care for those who have already served.

A good choice

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency seems to have made a fine choice in hiring Kurt Olsen, urban renewal director in Lincoln City, to succeed Don Burt in the top job here.

Anyone who visited Lincoln City before its urban renewal effort began five years ago knows Olsen had his work cut out for him. And anyone who has visited recently will agree that the results are visible and dramatic.

Also good news is the fact that Burt will stay on as a staff member, lending his experience with local and state agencies to the final decade of Medford's urban renewal efforts.

Burt deserves the community's thanks for his hard work, the results of which are evident throughout the city's downtown core. Projects still on the drawing board will add even more enhancements.