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OFFE Press Release
March 19, 2007

From: Gene D. Simes, President VFVC / National Chairman OFFE

Letter to the Editor:

Subject: Acute Psychiatry – No Room at the Inn

Despite assurances that the psychiatry unit at the Canandaigua VA was no longer needed, evidence continues to mount to the contrary.

After closing the Acute Psychiatry Unit at Canandaigua the Upstate Healthcare System (VISN 2) under the direction of Dr, Stephen Lemons finds itself in the middle of a critical crisis.

As of this morning there are no psychiatry beds available for those veterans who need psychiatric care.

Faced with a “No Vacancy” sign being raised in Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo, veterans are being housed in community facilities and private hospitals across Upstate New York. That is when there is a bed that can be found.

With the closure of the Acute Psychiatry Unit in Canandaigua an already critical shortage of community psychiatry beds has been made worse. A population already at risk is being pushed to the brink of disaster.

Operation Firing for Effect is pulling out all the stops, they, together with Eric Massa, a candidate for the House of Representatives from the 29th District in New York are working tirelessly to make our congressional leaders deal with the crisis the Department of Veterans Affairs has created. 

At home in our local communities, local legislators are unifying in their call for mandatory funding, they are demanding that veterans services be maintained for the men and women who have served this nation and worn the uniform at home and abroad. Uniting with those communities, local unions are mobilizing their members and demanding that our federal government honor its promise to “care for those who have borne the burden” in its name. 

From Monroe County in Western New York to Chicago, Illinois and across this great land, the people of this great nation are voicing their outrage over the travesties of Walter Reed and the VA Healthcare System.

In Washington, Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton, Representative Slaughter and other veteran advocates are moving forward with meaningful legislation to advance Operation Firing for Effect’s call for mandatory funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This legislation will end the Secretary of Veterans Affairs attempts to balance the budget on the backs of our nations veterans and restore services that being eliminated or made inaccessible to those that need them the most.

We the members of Operation Firing for Effect demand that the Department of Veterans Affairs, restore all veterans services at the Canandaigua VAMC, return the Acute Psychiatry Unit to full service for the Veterans in Upstate New York. We demand that they relieve the private sector of the burden of caring for our veterans and end this crisis in healthcare.

We demand that our elected representatives call for, support and pass legislation for mandatory funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs to insure that quality healthcare will be accessible for this nation’s veterans, today and for all time.

Further we demand that the President of the United States support and sign into law that legislation when it reaches the oval office.

The office that we the people elected him to…


Gene Simes

Veterans for Veteran Connection

Operation Firing For Effect Campaign 2008 - Mandatory Funding