California blackouts could hurt veterans, VA secretary warns

Ongoing power outages in California are causing serious worries among top Veterans Affairs leaders across the country, who say thousands of veterans lives could be endangered by the problem.

In a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the blackouts “could create significant life-threatening issues for the region’s veterans and their families” as well as supplemental VA health care services in the state, which is home to more than 1.6 million veterans, the most of any state.

“Power outages could become dangerous for veterans receiving in-home care and those who rely on power for the refrigeration of life saving medications like insulin,” the letter states. “With so many veterans dependent upon these necessities, the uncertainty these power outages pose is extremely troubling.”

Veterans aren’t the only ones facing problems. Nearly 3 million people in California are facing total or partial blackouts as utility companies shut down power in areas prone to wildfires. It’s the latest round in an escalating series of power problems in the state in recent months, and could last for several days.

Newsome in recent days has blamed the power problems on “mismanagement by some of the largest investors on utilities” and urged utility companies to find ways to mitigate the problems.

Wilkie in his letter noted that while VA medical facilities in the state have back-up generators to ensure they aren’t left in the dark, many local medical providers that veterans rely upon for treatment are facing hardship because of the blackouts.

He requested regular updates from the state on the status of the power outages, given the potential impact on the veterans population.

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