Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bayside at Fort Howard

This is my latest published letter to the editor of the Dundalk Eagle Newspaper:

Property Should Be Used For Veterans’ Hospital Again

Articles and letters I read in The Eagle concerning the development project at the former Fort Howard VA Medical Center fail to explain that future residents do not have to be veterans to be able to rent there.

Veterans have first choice on all rental units and get a discount. But, as Blaine Taylor has stated in his two recent letters in The Eagle, many veterans will not be able to afford the rental prices. That leaves plenty of room for nonveterans.

This project was not planned as affordable housing for veterans, on surplus land.

At a public meeting in the Edgemere VFW, the former director of the Fort Howard VA Medical Center stated that the idea for this project came about when the hospital was not given the funds to continue, and was closed down.

But it was not closed down due to lack of need. That Fort Howard property is the perfect place for what it once was: a much-needed inpatient and outpatient medical center with superb physical rehab facilities. It is also perfect for nice homes with a fantastic view of the Chesapeake Bay.

When it was a VA hospital and I was a patient there, I would sometimes see family and friends of hospitalized vets out on the spacious, peaceful, beautiful and safe hospital grounds with their veteran loved one, when the vet was suffering from a serious medical condition. That open space, peaceful beauty and hospital privacy was good for their aching souls.

Fort Howard’s open space was well used by many patients and their visitors. Some hospital staff members who often took long walks out there in order to deal with the human suffering they were privy to every day also used it. It never was unused open space, as the developers and some others want you to believe.

The Fort Howard property no longer has any security guards. Thieves have already stolen copper pipes and other items from buildings there. Someone needs to provide 24-hour security down there.

The buildings are decaying faster and faster. It is time for the Federal Development Corp. to face the fact that it is subject to Baltimore County rules, regulations, tax laws and all other laws, and that the Fort Howard and Edgemere-area infrastructure cannot handle all of the rental units that Federal wants to put there.

What veterans and their loved ones need to be built there is a new hospital, which is for the treatment of medical problems that veterans often suffer from, and for the rehabilitation of horrific war injuries that too many of our service personnel are coming home from the current wars with.

This war situation is going to last a long time, and casualties of these wars need medical centers like the old Fort Howard hospital used to be. So do aging veterans of previous times in the service of their country.

Unfortunately, the federal government refuses to provide full funding for veterans’ health care.

David Crews, Liberty Parkway

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