Veterans Affairs offices in Memphis, Dickson and Cookeville could close if the state opts to cut the department’s budget by 9 percent next year, say VA officials.
Eliminating three field offices, eight staff positions and slashing travel and supply costs would save the department $407,300, according to John Keys, commissioner for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The department’s current budget is $5.6 million.
Veterans now using those facilities would be absorbed by other branches, Keys said.
The Memphis office would relocate to the local VA Medical Center, though visitors of the Dickson and Cookeville offices would likely travel to Nashville or Chattanooga for assistance.
“We’re confident we’ll be able to meet that need,” Keys told Gov. Phil Bredesen at a budget hearing last month.
Bredesen requested that state agencies prepare scenarios that reflect 9 percent and 6 percent cuts to trim the overall state budget.
At field offices, veterans can file paperwork for benefits ranging from G.I. Bill tuition applications to health services for medical conditions and disabilities. Veterans also use those offices to check in on the status of their claims, or to inquire about other programs.
With 532,000 living Tennessee veterans, and more serving in ongoing U.S. wars, department budget officer Norman Nash says now isn’t the time to reduce staff.
“If we had no cuts at all, we would still need additional people,” he said.