NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WWLP) – Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) and other healthcare professionals rallied outside of the Northampton VA Monday as part of a coalition working to save the VA Medical Center there.

In addition to MNA, elected officials and veterans spoke out about the impacts losing this facility would have on the people who risked their lives to serve this country.

“Slap in the face to all the veterans that use this place,” said State Senator John Velis, who is a veteran and Major in the U.S. Army Reserves.

The center opened it’s doors in 1924 serving western Massachusetts, home to the largest veteran population in the state.

Vietnam Veteran Preston Hood III told 22News he’s been going to the VA for 22 years, “My heart would be broken if they closed this place.”

The closure of the facility would mean veterans would need to travel to Springfield or Connecticut to seek care. Officials against the closure believe this would translate into no care for some veterans.

“Doesn’t make any sense. I have several friends who have been treated at the PTSD ward here and they say nothing short of it saved their life,” said Velis. Senator He says a declining veteran population is no excuse to limit access to services.

“Look at the world we live in right now. We have 90,000 in eastern Europe right now, there in case we have to go do something. If we have one conflict, that number of veterans that we have right now, is going to sky rocket,” said Velis.

If this facility closes, there will be 24,000 veterans who will have to seek care elsewhere.