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Opening Statement of Hon. John T. Salazar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado (Statement for the Record)

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I would like to also thank our panel today and give a special welcome to Dr. Richard Krugman, Dean of the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine.

The issue of recruitment and retention is one of great importance to me.

As you know Dr. Krugman, my Congressional district encompasses almost 60% of the State of Colorado; much of it is very rural.

Presently, it’s not uncommon for a veteran to drive five hours of mountainous terrain to reach a VA medical facility, with a predicted nationwide shortage of healthcare professionals it can only get worse for veterans living in rural areas.

In Colorado we have a great opportunity for the VA to work with the University of Colorado medical school.

The medical school has relocated to the old Fitz-Simmons campus and if the VA is able to negotiate a land purchase they will also build a new state of the art medical facility adjacent to the medical school.

This will give medical students the opportunity to work directly with the VA on rotation and give VA additional opportunities to recruit new healthcare professionals.

Again, thank you for your testimony today and I look forward to working together to tackle this tough issue.

Ultimately, the answers we find to address the shortage of healthcare professionals within the VA could translate to addressing these shortages in communities across America.