Anyone with ideas, comments, or concerns regarding access of healthcare for veterans will be given the chance to make their thoughts heard during a meeting of the New Jersey Veterans' Hospital Task Force Tuesday.

Ninth District Senator Chris Connors and Assemblywoman Diane Gove both of whom serve on the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committees of their respective House, will serve as legislative members on the Task Force.

The meeting will be held at the Little Egg Harbor Municipal Building on Tuesday May 29th (665 Radio Road) at 10 am.

Testimony will be heard from Veterans Organizations from Atlantic and Ocean County.

”The purpose of the Task Force is to gather data which will we will utilize in trying to improve access to healthcare for our veterans.” Says Senator Connors. He adds the data will go to Veterans Administration.

The meeting in Little Egg Harbor will be the third is a string of forums held by the Task Force. The first meeting was held at the end of 2011 in Berkley Township and a second meeting was held recently in Somers Point. Connors says there will be at least two more hearings in the South Jersey region.

Currently veterans who need access to a V.A. Hospital must travel to Wilmington Delaware, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, or East Orange New Jersey, and Connors believes the distance for many South Jersey veterans is needlessly long.

“They’re passing many hospitals here in Southern New Jersey, and they have to travel a great distance which we think is a great burden for those who have made such a tremendous sacrifice.”

He says this is especially difficult for veterans of World War II who need many services which require them making arrangements for transportation to Wilmington or Philadelphia, all the while passing many local hospitals.

“Among the ideas that have been generated is in an addition to perhaps building a Veterans Hospital in South Jersey is allow access to hospitals that already exist.” Says Connors, adding a similar pilot program exists in Somers Point and he would like to see that expanded to other facilities as well.

Noting using existing facilities is also much more cost effective than building a new hospital.

Connors hopes the Task Force, which is established by law with bipartisan support., will finish its repot by the end of the year.