- Suffolk Executive Steve Levy
recognized the adoption of a measure authorizing a 10-year lease for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to operate an "East End Veterans Clinic" in the Riverhead County Center, thereby allowing East End veterans more access to benefits and health services provided by the VA.
In 2008, Levy secured a grant from the New York State Assembly majority delegation from Suffolk in the amount of $500,000 for the establishment of an East End Veterans Clinic at the Riverhead County Center. The grant, funded by the NYS Dormitory Authority's Community Enhancement Facilities Assistance Program (CEFAP), will provide half of the funding for the clinic, with Suffolk County covering the remaining $500,000. The Suffolk Legislature authorized the county executive to execute a lease for 10 years.
"Many veterans live on the East End of Suffolk County, and providing this satellite clinic will afford many veterans easier access to the care and benefits they deserve without the inconvenience of a long commute to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center located in Northport," said Levy. "The services offered by the VA can be life-altering, and so we are proud to provide increased benefit access to our East End veteran population."
Upon completion, the new East End Veterans Clinic will feature a 4,000-square-foot facility providing primary and mental health services to any veteran who seeks out care. In addition, a separate entrance with a new elevator will be in service at the new clinic to provide easier access to the clinic for those veterans with mobility problems.
Levy added that the location provides the added convenience of being in the same building as the many other Suffolk County offices.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency of the federal government, will staff and equip the new clinic. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Program will transport veterans with travel hardships to the Northport VA Medical Center for services not offered in the new clinic, such as CT scans and MRIs.
Veterans Advocates Salute Efforts
Philip Moschitta, Northport VA Medical Center's Director, said he appreciates the dedication and hard work of Levy, the Legislature, Suffolk Veteran Service Agency Director Tom Ronayne and Suffolk's veteran leaders who "joined together to ensure that East End veterans, who for many years were underserved because of the distance from their doorsteps to the Northport VA, will now have a beautiful new VA clinic to call their own.
Sidney Lynn, Commander Suffolk County Council, Veterans of Foreign Wars, added, "With the opening of the VA clinic in Riverhead, our veterans will have the ability to receive services that have historically been difficult to reach. This facility will be of great value to our veterans, and Suffolk County should be commended on its determination to make this happen."
Frank DeMarco, President AMVETS & NYS Service Foundation, noted that "The clinic in Riverhead will be an asset to the veterans of eastern Long Island. It will save them many hours of traveling to the Northport Center. Suffolk County should be proud as this clinic opens; this addition just shows how dedicated Suffolk County is to its veterans, and how attentive Suffolk is to the growing need for veterans care."
Suffolk Veteran Service Agency Director Tom Ronayne said, "The ability to access services for our East End veterans has long been a challenge. Under Steve Levy's leadership, this much-needed project is now complete and we know that challenge has been overcome. We will continue to work as a team to do what is necessary to ensure that all of our veterans are able to access the services and benefits to which they are entitled."