- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

TEANECK, N.J. (AP) - A Veterans Administration outpatient clinic at the New Jersey shore could receive a major upgrade if a compromise proposal in Congress becomes law.

U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey touted the proposal and other measures aimed at helping veterans during a news conference on Friday, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

The compromise legislation would create 26 new facilities around the country, including the James J. Howard Community Clinic in Brick. Booker said the clinic would be upgraded and expanded if the legislation goes through.

“It’s about getting the investment so they can get the capacity and the basic technology they need to be of greater service,” Booker said. “Right now it’s a facility with limited services. This is sort of the bigger theme, that we seem to come up with the money to go to war, but we don’t seem to come up with the money to give the facilities the resources necessary.”

Both senators said New Jersey’s veterans, like veterans across the country, often have to drive hours to the nearest VA facility to get health care. Menendez said some southern New Jersey veterans are forced to drive to Delaware. Another facet of the proposed legislation would allow veterans a wider choice of facilities where they could receive care, he said.

“We would like for them to be able to go to the AtlantiCare system, or a federally qualified health center, at least for primary care, to be able to go there and use their VA card,” he said. “My understanding is the bill that’s being proposed will allow veterans to do exactly that.”

Booker and Menendez also announced proposed legislation that would protect military members from having their credit ratings negatively affected when they are on deployment.

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