The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that there was “no locus standi” in a lawsuit filed by the Auxilio Mutuo de Hato Rey Hospital to block the construction of a needed mental healthcare center for the veteran population on the island.
“We welcome the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of our project with great satisfaction, as this is a battle that veterans groups have been fighting for 10 years”he claimed George PedrozaIn written remarks Wednesday, the president of Vietnam Veterans of America new day,
“Veterans in Puerto Rico need to continue expanding the occupational therapy, psychosocial health and rehabilitation services that this clinic will offer, because we do not want to continue hearing sad stories from members of our community who are suffering from these conditions. Pedroza Said, “We here in Puerto Rico deserve to be treated with dignity that we have earned with so much sacrifice.”
The VA Domiciliary Program and Psychosocial Outpatient Center is under construction on a property located at the marginal corner of Avenida Muñoz Rivera, Expresso Jesus T. Piñero, in Hato Rey., to be administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The clinic will offer services focused on helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life upon completion of active duty and is projected to serve a population of 23,000 veterans.
Leaders of organizations representing veterans in Puerto Rico last Monday condemned an attempt by the administration of the aforementioned hospital institution to halt construction. On average, at least 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States, according to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs. “This sadly underscores the critical importance of addressing veterans’ mental health.” Pedroza shared that day.
The construction of the center began on July 14, 2021 and is expected to be completed in March 2023.
El Auxilio Mutuo, along with RULE Caribbean Investment Trust and Juan Ruano Muñoz—president of the Urban Acquisition Corporation, RULE’s fiduciary entity—went to court, requesting a halt to development of the project, specifically challenging the resolution on location consultations and permits of construction, issued by the Board of Adjudication of the Office of Permit Management (OGPe). The Court of First Instance authorized the continuation of construction, indicating in its resolution that the permits obtained for the development were in order, and that there were no grounds to stop the work.
Rule holds approximately one-third of the shares of El Monte Town Center, LLC and El Monte Tower, LLC, which owns the El Monte Mall and El Monte Tower shopping center and office building located on Luis Muñoz Rivera Avenue. On the other side of the ground where a mental health care center for ex-servicemen is being built.
Not satisfied with the verdict, the plaintiffs went to the Court of Appeal. On June 30, 2022, that forum issued a determination concluding that the project complied with all required aspects and could continue with its course. The said judicial forum determined that the project can be developed in the area where it is being built.
In response, the plaintiffs took the matter to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Judicial Forum, in a resolution dated last Thursday, November 10, ordered the consolidation of the appeals submitted and determined that there is no room.
“It seemed unusual to us that the project faced opposition, especially from another health institution,” Pedroza told this medium.
The hospital told The Medium last week that “this is not a dispute between mutual aid and veterans of Puerto Rico, this is a dispute with a developer who has committed myriad irregularities and procedural violations.”
“Mutual aid opposes violations of law and unregulated procedures before government agencies. This includes an assessment of the impact on traffic, infrastructure, utilities and the proposed size of the structure, which exceeds the parameters required for that type of operation, and There will be a negative impact on traffic and overloaded service infrastructure,” he said.
For decades, Puerto Rican servicemen who complete their military service and return to Puerto Rico have been forced to leave the island for a state in the continental United States in order to be covered by the Department of Veterans’ Public Affairs. access specialized mental health services that are not available in the archipelago.
Because there is no such center in Puerto Rico, only a few veterans have been able to enjoy this benefit, which responds to an urgent need for mental health care after participating in combat. “We carry the trauma of war into our homes, we carry the trauma of war into our marriages, and our children are affected as well,” Pedroza said last Monday.