PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The decisions about new administrative space for regional Veterans Administration executives and maintaining a pool at a local veterans’ center may involve different budgets and different decision makers.

But tell that to vets like Claude Maxwell.

“Well, I think their priorities are a little out of whack,” he said

That was his reaction to a Pittsburgh Tribune Review article tracing a million dollars’ worth of preparation for fourth floor office space at the Delmonte building on the North Shore between Heinz Field and PNC Park. It includes a shower room and gym for executives of the Veterans Integrated Service Network which represents five states.

It’s a bitter pill for vets who lobbied to keep a pool open at the vets’ Highland Drive facility. A few years ago KDKA-TV profiled Gulf War vets like Barry Walker who drove there regularly to use the pool’s therapeutic waters.

The pool closed last spring.

Maxwell, a Vietnam veteran, used that pool too.

“With the problems I do have, arthritis, and it sort of eases that problem for me. I would go up there five days a week, do my little workout, and when I came out that pool I felt real good,” he said.

“Well, my gut reaction is, ‘Why would they do something like this and take something away from the veterans that doesn’t even cost as much?’” he said.

The Veterans Administration offered only this statement:

“To accommodate the expanding clinical programs and patient workload at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, the VISN office moved off of the medical center grounds.  This has allowed VA Pittsburgh to create additional treatment space for veterans.  A small fitness room was furnished to encourage employees to participate in a wellness program.  This program, which encourages employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle, fits with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ emphasis on preventive health care.”

The Veterans Administration also says the lease for the office space followed all applicable federal rules and regulations.

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