Tim Griffin, VA chair say little on vets center | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tim Griffin, VA chair say little on vets center

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Tim Griffin and Jeff Miller

The chair of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, met further today with Arkansas officials working to provide services to Central Arkansas veterans.

We assume this meeting was to generally check up on things and perhaps weigh in on the Drop-in Center relocation to a site already leased at 10th and Main in Little Rock. We also assume that he toured local veterans' facilities, including the existing Drop-In Center at 2nd and Ringo, which is so over-crowded that clients eat in three shifts and the doors to the closet-sized offices don't open entirely, because multiple desks have been crammed inside.

We assume because at the press conference at the Little Rock VA hospital following the meeting, Miller barely spoke. He complimented local VA leadership, called Central Arkansas's facilities "one of the crown jewels inside the system," and repeatedly thanked U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin of Little Rock, until now a key opponent of the new location, for inviting him to visit. He literally spoke for a minute (the recording is posted below).

Tim Griffin spoke extensively, but he never went beyond platitudes. He took five questions — three from the same reporter— and all the while, Miller stood at Griffin's side, wearing an unreadable expression. When Griffin finished speaking (a question on why he has publicly supported Romney pretty much shut down the conference after Griffin said he couldn't discuss politics in the government venue), Miller was surrounded by a conglomerate of suits and uniformed security, and whisked away with journalists in vain pursuit.

So really, we don't know if Miller toured the Drop-In Center (he implied that he had, but he never explicitly said this), if he has an opinion on its conditions, if he agrees with Griffin's work — including a letter to Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki — to stymie the VA relocation efforts, or even why he was present at the news conference.

What we do know is that Griffin can't tell us "everything that was in the meeting, otherwise we would have had the meeting in here," but that "we have requested some facts about the timeline of events and the VA is being very cooperative, and they want to give us those facts, so we will take a look at those, and I have offered in every way to help further the conversation from different sides, and from what I hear from the VA, they want to be forward leaning and engage in conversation with folks who oppose that particular site."

Uh, yeah, I think we already knew all that and that Griffin has experience as a reservist. Speaking of questions and answers: You'll find answers to every single one posed to the VA so far on its Facebook page. And they welcome more.

Video after the jump. Also a news release in which Griffin works in a jab at the VA for not doing an adequate job of notice on its move.

GRIFFIN NEWS RELEASE

LITTLE ROCK — Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement following House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller’s visit to Little Rock:

“It was great to have Chairman Miller — a strong advocate for America’s veterans — visit Little Rock to see first-hand the incredible work the VA is doing for veterans, and hear from the community regarding the VA’s Drop-In Day Treatment Center decision. Today, we had a productive meeting with VA officials, who expressed their willingness to cooperate, acknowledged the site relocation process could have been more open, and promised to provide the information requested. I will continue to encourage cooperation and communication between the VA, local residents, business owners and the community. I remain convinced that we can resolve this issue in a way that best serves our veterans and the community, and I appreciate Chairman Miller taking a personal interest in this issue.”

In addition to meeting with local residents, government officials and community leaders about the Drop-In Day Treatment Center, Chairman Miller and Rep. Griffin met with members of the Second District Veterans Advisory Committee and officials from Veterans Service Organizations Thursday morning. They also toured the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital and the Little Rock National Cemetery.

“It was an honor to meet with Arkansas veterans today, and hear the community’s concerns about VA’s responsiveness,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “It’s important that communities come together to rally around our veterans, but VA must consider the community’s input when making long-term decisions. Rep. Griffin has been a staunch advocate of that approach, and I applaud him for working to find a solution that honors our veterans and also carries community support.”

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